By David Charlesworth, PA
Katie Taylor believes she showed “the heart of a champion” after defending her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight titles with a hard-fought victory over old adversary Natasha Jonas at the Manchester Arena.
Nearly nine years on from beating Jonas at the London Olympics in an unforgettable quarter-final showdown en route to a historic gold medal, the Irish fighter had to dig deep to keep her status as undisputed champion at 135lbs.
Taylor (18-0 6KOs) stayed busy, using her superior speed to produce several telling flurries, although her Liverpool rival grew into the fight and landed several stinging shots in a bout that displayed women’s boxing at its finest.
18-0! Thanking God for a hard fought victory. Thank you all for the support! pic.twitter.com/c65w7vC5b6
— Katie Taylor (@KatieTaylor) May 2, 2021
But Taylor’s experience – this was her 12th world title fight while Jonas had only as many professional fights – was telling in the last couple of rounds and she was given the decision by scores of 96-94, 96-95 and 96-95.
“It was definitely a toe-to-toe battle in there,” Taylor said. “I thought I was a bit flat early on, but I dug deep to win the championship rounds.
“I definitely showed the heart of a champion in there and that’s what won me the fight in the end. I’m just delighted to come out of it with the belts and still undefeated – 18-0, onwards and upwards.”
Many observers thought this contest warranted top billing ahead of the heavyweight showdown between Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker and the bravery shown by both Taylor and Jonas would have done little to dampen that notion.
“I feel sorry for the main event coming out after that fight,” Taylor added minutes before the headliner. “It was a thrilling fight.”
The pair’s contest at London 2012 generated a record 113.7 decibels of noise at the Excel Arena so their latest meeting being held behind closed doors was a stark contrast.
While Taylor has been hoovering up world titles and continues to prove her status as one of the best female fighters, Jonas had to rebuild after a shock defeat to Viviane Obenauf a year after turning professional.
Jonas (9-2-1, 7KOs) surprised many with her performance against WBC super-featherweight champion Terri Harper last August, but the 36-year-old was denied by a debatable split draw decision while a rematch failed to materialise.
That ultimately led to her accepting the challenge to move up in weight and – for the second time in two fights – she enhanced her reputation, even in defeat.
“She showed everything it takes to win a world title in her last two performances,” Taylor added. “This was a brilliant showcase for women’s boxing and boxing overall.
“Every time we fought as amateurs it was that type of fight as well. I’d prepared for a hard 10-round battle and that’s exactly what it was.”
As for what is next on the horizon, Taylor added: “I want to be involved in the biggest fights. There’s plenty of those fights out there for me.”