LIVERPOOL’S Natasha Jonas has spent much of the summer multi-tasking, a skill, as a parent, she has presumably by now almost mastered.
In recent weeks she has found herself either in the gym training for a fight on September 3 or travelling up and down the country in support of her sister, Nikita, whose triumph with the England Lionesses has been both well-documented and rightly celebrated. Whether watching or training, it’s fair to say Jonas, despite the miles clocked, hasn’t had to look far for inspiration of late.
“There was only one game we didn’t get to – one in Brighton,” she said of the experience of following the England women’s football team. “We literally followed her (Nikita Parris) the length and breadth of the country. It was a great moment for us all to be there and share the moment. We went to Old Trafford and it was sold out. We went to Wembley (Stadium) and it was sold out. We went to Sheffield United (Bramall Lane) and it was sold out.
“Sometimes in the men’s game it feels really serious, because there’s so much on it, but with the women’s games they made the whole experience so much fun. There were fun things to do throughout the whole game. You then come away and say, ‘Yeah, I had a boss time there.’ We had a boss time because our team won, obviously, but we had a boss time because the whole experience was fun, too. It shows what can be achieved when it’s visible and when the girls are taken seriously. The standard of play in the whole tournament was some of the best football I’ve ever seen.”
Similar things are being said about the standard of women’s boxing, of course, particularly in Great Britain, where it is becoming more and more a fixture of the once-male-dominated boxing calendar. Next month, for example, not only does an all-female fight card take place on Sky Sports on September 10, but the weekend before that Jonas, the WBO women’s super-welterweight belt-holder, will battle Sweden’s WBC belt-holder Patricia Berghult in Liverpool.
“I was hoping to be fighting Hannah Rankin on that date, but that obviously didn’t materialise for whatever reason,” Jonas, 11-2 (8), said. “Berghult was training for a fight against (Cecilia) Brækhus, which was due to take place on the 13th (of August), so for this she’ll be in shape, just as I’m in shape.”
A fight good enough to headline, especially in Jonas’ home city, it is, more importantly, a fight good enough for Jonas to see the sense in sticking around at super-welterweight, a division, by her own admission, not quite her natural fighting home.
“I’m still in a bit of a limbo about going back down,” she said. “While the opportunities are here at 154 (pounds), I’ll take them. We’ve been toing and froing with (Rick) Ramos and (Jessica) McCaskill on social media but nothing really materialised. Chantelle (Cameron) is still chasing either McCaskill or Kali Reis. I don’t really know what Katie’s (Taylor) doing. So it’s still all up in the air at the moment. Everyone knows I want to go back down because 154 is not my natural weight. But while the opportunities are still here, I’ll obviously take them.
“McCaskill (the world welterweight champion) is definitely in my sights, but I wouldn’t want to step on Chantelle’s toes, as she’s my mate. But if that fight can’t be made, it’s one I would like at some point. I’m not really sure what McCaskill’s plan is. Along with her coach, she’s shouting a lot of things – they want this one and they want that one – but then when someone says they want the fight, they say, ‘Well, you need to do this,’ or, ‘You need to do that.’ There’s always some other obstacle in the way.”
For now, the only obstacle in the way of Natasha Jonas is a Swede with an undefeated 15-0 (3) record who will arrive in Liverpool next month with all the confidence of a champion. It is for this reason Jonas cannot afford to think too far ahead, nor take for granted what she already has in her possession.
“I have watched her against Rankin (whom Berghult defeated via decision in 2019), and I’ll probably watch her against a few more people along the way,” she said about Berghult. “She’s very neat and tidy, your typical Swedish boxer. She probes with her lead hand and has got good footwork. She’s not much different than Hannah Rankin, stature-wise. Stylistically, she’s totally different, but stature-wise she’s tall, she’s got long arms, and she’s not too dissimilar to Hannah. I think she’ll be at a (Chris) Namus (Jonas’ last opponent) kind of weight, probably similar to me.”
That would certainly help. For as she proved last time out, when snatching her current belt in just two rounds against Namus, Jonas is a boxer whose power and aggression is likely to cause problems for opponents of similar height and weight who choose to fight her kind of fight. It has, after all, helped her secure eight of her 11 pro wins inside schedule, this aggression. It is also what enables her to become the in-transit tourist of various weight divisions, never quite sure either how long she will stay or indeed where she truly belongs, yet adamant that, for as long as she is there, she will give it her all.
“I think it’s going to be a patient fight,” she said of her next one. “I didn’t think I’d blast out my last opponent (Namus) and I don’t think I’ll blast out Berghult, either. I’ll have to show my boxing brain and take my opportunities. It will be methodical and smart boxing from round one until it’s over.”