Natasha Jonas believes her world title showdown with WBC super-featherweight champion Terri Harper will be a “great opportunity to showcase women’s boxing” with the pair looking set to be the first female boxers back in action since the coronavirus lockdown.
Harper’s first defence of her title had been scheduled for April 21 this year in her hometown of Doncaster, but the pandemic forced the fight to be abandoned.
The contest has been rescheduled for August 7 and will be the second of three headline bouts to feature at Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom’s five-night ‘Fight Camp’, which launches on August 1 at its Brentwood headquarters in Essex.
It will be the first time two British women have contested a world title and at the age of 36, it will be Jonas’ second shot at one since returning to the sport as a professional in 2015, having previously called time on her amateur career.
“It’s a good time [to be fighting],” Jonas told Telegraph Sport. “Boxing is very niche anyway. Most boxing audiences have always been boxing audiences, it’s not like football, where everyone gets involved. It’s quite a specialised kind of audience.
“Because there’s been no boxing, they’ll be wanting to tune in. I know loads of people who watch boxing religiously and never watch MMA, but have been watching MMA because it’s been on and there’s nothing else to watch.
“With us being one of the first back, it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase women’s boxing.”
Jonas, Great Britain’s first ever Olympic female boxer at the 2012 London Games and the half-sister of England footballer Nikita Parris, heads into the contest on the back of three consecutive wins after suffering her single career loss in the pro ranks against Viviane Obenauf in 2018.
The Toxteth fighter has never crossed paths with Harper other than to present the 23-year-old with an amateur trophy which was so long ago that Jonas cannot recall the year.
“When it comes to the day, we’re going to just see whose best, that’s it,” said Jonas, who is trained by Joe Gallagher. “There’s no animosity. The women’s game isn’t like the men’s game. She’s a good boxer, I rate what she’s done, she’s the champion. I’ve got to beat her so I’ve got to bring my best game. “I one hundred per cent believe I can win, and I know she does as well.”
Training in lockdown has provided extra challenges for the Liverpudlian, not least because she had “nowhere to hang a bag” in her house while homeschooling her four-year-old daughter Mela in between going on runs and doing free-weight exercises proved a juggling act.
“She was suspended the first day,” quipped Jonas. “It was just a nightmare, I’ve realised how much little patience I have and how much I appreciate teachers.”
Speaking about her fight, she added: “I don’t think she [Mela] gets the concept of just how big a moment this is. She’s more concerned about Nikita playing football, she’d rather watch Nikita play.”