Natasha Jonas retains IBF title after split decision win over Mikaela Mayer

Natasha Jonas was pushed to the limit but retained her IBF welterweight crown with a razor-thin split decision victory over American rival Mikaela Mayer in a thriller in Liverpool.

Jonas started strongly in the first defence of the world title she won by defeating Kandi Wyatt last July but Mayer steadily grew into the bout and was the busier of the two in several riveting exchanges.

It was an all-action affair but, despite being left with a cut below her left eye, Jonas, who raised her arm aloft at the final bell, was given the nod 96-94 and 96-95 as a third judge sided with Mayer 97-93.

The result divided opinion on social media but, after Jonas extended her record to 15 wins and two defeats with one draw in her home city, she indicated 2024 will be her final year in the sport.

The 39-year-old has won six fights in a row since losing on points to long-time rival Katie Taylor in May 2021, becoming a unified world light-middleweight champion before stepping down to reign at 147lbs.

She told Sky Sports: “Unfortunately I can’t be around forever, this is probably my last year in boxing and we want to make it the best chapter of the book.”

A rematch against an opponent six years her junior, a former unified world super-featherweight champion who was fighting at welterweight for the first time on Saturday night, would surely be welcomed.

Jonas said: “She’s in the top two people I’ve fought, she’s a very, very skilled operator and her time will come again. She beats a lot of the champions that are already here.

“That little bit of fear factor brings out the best in me, I need opponents like her to tango. With no disrespect to the likes of Kandi Wyatt, I knew I would dominate and I was supposed to win.”

Mayer, who slipped to her second defeat in 21 fights, wants a chance at gaining revenge over Jonas.

She said: “I thought I did enough to win. I would have given her the first round or two but after that, I feel like I out-punched her and landed the cleaner shots. I think that fight is worth seeing again.

“I just hope Natasha will be the stand-up champ that she is and give me another shot at the belt – I feel like I deserve it.”