Liverpool super-featherweight Natasha Jonas says she has "unfinished business" with former amateur foe Katie Taylor and has promised to settle the score when she faces ‘the Bray Bomber’ for the undisputed lightweight world titles at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday night on the undercard of Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora's heavyweight clash.
‘Miss GB’ met Taylor in the quarter-final stages of the London 2012 Olympic Games, losing out on points to the eventual winner of the tournament. Now, nearly a decade down the line, the pair meet once again and Jonas is confident of avenging her loss and handing Taylor her first pro defeat.
In Jonas’ last outing, she came agonisingly close to a first world title win last year after battling to a 10-round draw against IBO and WBC super-featherweight world titlist Terri Harper last August.
“I’ve finally established myself at world level which is where I always wanted to be," the 36-year-old told Matchroom Sport. "I think I was a bit unlucky that night. I’ve always said I’m not going to keep banging on the door of Terri Harper. I’ve put myself in mandatory positions and I’ll make the fight have to happen again, but I’m not going to wait around and I haven’t done that. Other opportunities have come forward and they’re the ones that I have taken.
The reception to the pair’s first fight in London went through the roof, with the volume from spectators reaching a whopping 113.7 decibels, with only the track cycling at Velodrome witnessing higher noise levels across those Games, and Jonas hopes this weekend could also be an unmissable spectacle.
“Ever since I turned pro that’s always been the fight that everybody has wanted to see. There was 12,000 people in the arena at the time and we got the loudest crowd participation – that was the Irish and the Scousers going at it! It was brilliant. My amateur coach had been all around watching boxing, some of the biggest fights, and he said he’d never heard an atmosphere like it. It’s a little bit sad that fans won’t be there this time, but it was a spectacle and that’s what we hope to do again.
"All eyes will be on us again and I think both of us will step up to the plate. I know I have to be better than I was last time. Without disrespecting anyone, she’s in a different league to any other opponents before. I’ve fought her before, and I’ll be ready. I’ve always wanted to be a World Champion, one fight could give me that, and everything else. It’s a huge moment for me and my career. I have to be better than I was before, which I’m prepared to do.
“People say you have these turning points in life. As successful as my amateur career was, I didn’t achieve things that I wanted to. That was the whole point of me coming back and being a pro. There was unfinished business. Katie Taylor has been the unfinished business since 2012. To come back and not only beat her and win her Titles, to become Undisputed – what more could you ask for as a professional boxer? That’s everything. You’ve done it all within one fight.’
Katie Taylor has set the women’s game alight since turning pro in 2016 and Jonas says she is full of admiration for what her Irish rival has accomplished, but insists she’ll find the answer when it comes to beating her.
“Even throughout her amateur career she’s always set the bar really high and we’ve always had to catch her up. She presents herself well. She’s very positive. She’s been a great role model. That’s carried on into the professionals. When we step into the ring on fight night, she’s going to have to earn that respect. I’ve got all of the admiration and respect for her outside of the ring, but in the ring, you have to earn it. That’s what I’ll do.
“I don’t visualise anything if I’m honest. I prepare myself for every eventuality. That’s what I did with Terri and that’s probably the only time we’ve done that. That’s probably what I’ll do this time. Whatever Terri came with, I had an answer for. I think I’ll do the same with Katie. I’ll prepare for every best version of Katie. Any way that she can come at me, I’ll have an answer for it. The best version of me is a tough fight for anyone, Katie included."