SAN DIEGO, Calif., August 1, 2020 – Matchroom Boxing UK provided matinee boxing Friday for American fans from its idyllic outdoor Fight Camp compound on the grounds of the Matchroom Boxing main office in Brentwood, Essex.
The action in the ring contrasted with the pastoral setting as Terri Harder of Denaby, England (10-0-1, 5 KOs) fought to a furious draw with her girlhood idol, Natasha Jonas of Liverpool (9-1-1, 7 KOs). Scorecards were 96-94 for Harper, 96-95 for Jonas, and a 95-95 Harper retains her WBC and IBO super featherweight world titles.
Delighted fans are already calling for a rematch, and why stop there? This could be the start of the greatest trilogy to date in women’s professional boxing.
Harper had the freshness of youth at age 23 on her side, but the 36-year-old Jonas gave the youngster the challenge of her career and made her work for her victory. Jonas relied on her distinguished amateur pedigree and experience to manage Harper’s offensive onslaught, buying time when she needed to recover, and fending her off with shots keeping Harper off balance.
Harper came out strong, and rocked Jonas in the second round, forcing her to hold to survive. The damage done to Jonas began to visibly accumulate, not only on Jonas but with blood spattering all over Harper.
But experience carried Jonas along with impressive conditioning. In the eighth round, the reckoning came when Jonas stopped Harper’s momentum landing a hard right hook early in the round. Was it the last effort of a veteran? Time to find out what Harper was made of as she struggled to clear her head and fight back. It was the point of the fight when the outcome would come down to which woman wanted it more. Harper survived the round.
Jonas repeated the fast start by tagging Harper again at the start of the ninth round. Harper responded and it was all-out war. Jonas buckled Harper during a furious inside exchange.
“You’re killing her with the body shots – two minutes and you’re champion of the world!” said trainer Joe Gallagher to Jonas in the corner after the ninth round.
Harper needed the tenth round. The women let it rip and didn’t let up until the final bell. They left it all in the ring and neither could second guess their effort. While the draw disappointed both women, especially Jonas, no one could be unhappy about the scorecards.
Harper and Jonas ready to roll it back
“I was trying to stay on the outside,” said Harper. “She had me a few times. That’s boxing. I’m kind of disappointed. But I’m 23 years old with 16 amateur fights. I just want to thank Tash for an excellent fight. Yeah, back in the gym soon. No excuses but I’ve got a lot to learn.”
“I thought it was level going into eight,” said Jonas. ”I thought I won eight and nine, clearly. I thought I was one or two up. It was an honor to share this with her. She’d going to be in the game a lot longer than I am. She’s a world champion. I had to take it from her. I did think that, but it wasn’t to be.”
Harper said, “I knew I needed to suck it up big and dig deep for those last two rounds. I knew she was a tough opponent, but I didn’t expect this to come out of her. She obviously put it all into training camp. We made a good statement.”
“(Ted) Cheeseman and (Sam) Eggington was a great fight last week,” said Jonas. “We just kept it up. Hopefully all eyes on women’s boxing and we made the people and the public proud. Anyone sitting on the fence or against about women’s boxing, I hope they enjoyed it.”
Rematch in the cards
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn was elated after the fight, and he is already talking about matching the women up again. “We have to see the rematch for that fight. It was just a stunning fight. No one gave Natasha a chance going into that fight. I could see just how focused she was. She was out on her feet in the second round. Harper was hurt in the eighth round. We have to see the fight again.
“Everyone had it very close,” added Hearn. “Lots of people thought Tasha won the fight. Knowing Terri being Terri, she will want to do it again anyway. Women got another chance to make a British world championship. When it’s as good as that I’m all for it.”
Three minutes rounds would have made a significant difference in this bout. It’s likely one or both women would have scored knockdowns or gotten a stoppage win. These are the type of fights women professional boxers need to deliver to convince boxing fans they can be as entertaining as their male counterparts. Both genders fight five-minute rounds in mixed martial arts. Equal rounds would go a long way toward legitimacy in women’s professional boxing.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on social media at@PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group