In 148 seconds of heart-pounding, one-sided action, Natasha Jonas finally achieved her dream of becoming world champion. A weight lifted, a ruthless interior monologue passed over in silence. All replaced by unrelenting, pure relief.
It meant ‘everything’ to Liverpudlian, 37, as she told Sportsmail while preparing for her latest conquest, where she jumped three weight classes in pursuit of glory. “It’s peace for me. I could finally say I got what I deserve,’ she said, then preparing to face Ewa Piatkowska, who was replaced by Chris Namus after testing positive for Covid.
Who Jonas fought was irrelevant. It was all about one thing: the WBO super-welterweight belt, which she proudly and emotionally lifted above her head after annihilating her sorry dance partner.
Natasha Jonas ended her world title quest by winning the WBO super-welterweight belt
The 37-year-old knocked an unfortunate Chris Namus to the canvas twice on his way to a TKO victory
“I just feel relieved,” Jonas said, speaking from his grandmother’s house following the win. ‘That’s the only thing I can say. It’s just a relief.
“There was a lot of pressure about what would happen if…you know, wanting to win for yourself, getting yourself justice, being on the card it was, being the supporting act.
“There was just a lot of stress and pressure and I’m glad it ended like this. I justified it and finally got what I wanted! Also on the biggest stage of them all, with Kell Brook and Amir Khan stepping into the ring moments later.
It’s certainly a brilliant achievement, the one Jonas agrees is made sweeter by the long and arduous journey it took to get there, with victory now healing the wounds suffered during a brilliant but brutally difficult career.
‘[The belt] symbolizes everything you’re going through and it makes the moments when you think, ‘Why the hell do I have to do this,’ worth it,” she explained.
It also removes the seemingly eternal quest for closure. To the outside world, Jonas’ achievements were remarkable even before – already a pioneer in women’s boxing, having been the first British woman to compete for British boxing and the first to qualify for the Olympics.
But for the fighter – who really sums up that word – “it wasn’t good enough”. Neither has fallen slightly short in her two previous world title fights, the first in a controversial draw against Terri Harper – where most agree she has won – and the second in a points loss to Katie Taylor.
Jonas was the first British woman to qualify for the Olympics, where she made the quarter-final
Jonas fell short in his previous world title shots against Terri Harper (left) and Katie Taylor (right)
Jonas said: “When I tell people that about my amateur career, they’re like, ‘You’ve been to the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, world medalist, European medalist’.
“On paper, my amateur career looks amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what I’ve done. But for me, it wasn’t good enough. Drawing Terri Harper wasn’t good enough. Losing one round against Katie Taylor was not enough.
“I just feel like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I always knew I was good enough to have a world title and it pissed me off after Harper’s when I thought I should have won. I was just thinking, “Will this ever happen to me?” And now it is.
“I’ve reached the stage where I don’t care what other people think. I do it in the sense that I’m like ‘well I’m going to prove you wrong’, but that’s more of a motivation for me.
“It all depends on what I think of myself and how I’m going to live with myself. It’s more important to me than anyone else’s opinion.
That’s not to say support isn’t welcome. On such a momentous night, his achievement was not overshadowed. Indeed, as she exited the ring, much of the attention quickly shifted to Brook’s dramatic and almost equally one-sided victory. But Jonas has not been forgotten.
After dispatching Namus in style, dropping her at the end of the first round and immediately in the second, she was inundated with congratulatory messages, both personally and online.
Hailed by Tyson Fury, Claressa Shields, Ellie Scotney, Chantelle Cameron and many more…even Jamie Carragher, Jonas’ popularity has shone. The boxing world reveled in the coronation of a new champion.
Jonas admits a huge weight was lifted from his shoulders after the win
She celebrated with her team after the fight, as she received floods of congratulatory messages from a number of notable boxing figures
But a question immediately came to mind: what next? “I’ve always said that I take a lot of risk without reward,” Jonas explained.
“But what a belt gives you is leverage, it opens doors. I have something to say, “I won this, now let’s fight” or “Hannah Rankin, you want to unify?”
“I will have time off and when I go back to the gym with my team and Ben [Shalom]we will discuss the options and choose the best one.
There’s no doubt that would be the best – the winner of Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano who will fight on April 30. Whether this is feasible is another question.
“I would love this fight, whoever it is,” Jonas said. “But then don’t I fight until they’re finished?”
“Because without a doubt, unless there’s some serious blows one way or the other – or a brutal knockout, there will be two fights for that, which will probably last until October or the less the end of summer.” Am I supposed to wait for them to fight? I don’t really want to do that.
Jonas reveals she would like to fight the winner of Katie Taylor (left) against Amanda Serrano (right)
A more likely fight could be a unification against WBA and IBO champion Hannah Rankin
Above all, Jonas has no time to lose. In fact, she admits that 2022 could be her last year in boxing.
“I just don’t think there will be many options long enough for me to continue,” she said. ‘Your body can do whatever it wants, I can keep doing that. But mentally, can I continue to put myself in camps?
“Do I want to spend the next two or three years submitting to camps. The answer is probably no. So I want a big 2022, where maybe I can get three fights. Then I can see after that.
When asked if this could be his senior year, Jonas confirmed, “Potentially, yes.”
Having already immersed himself in pundit work for Sky Sports, Jonas still made a regular appearance on our television screens. But for fans and fighters, perhaps 2022 is a year we should make the most of while we can.
“Having an expert, something safe to go into next is a big help. But I already did. I retired from amateur boxing and survived. I don’t think pro will be that different.
“And like I did with amateur boxing, I will always be involved in boxing in one way or another. It’s such a big part of my life, it would be hard to completely get rid of it.
“It’s scary, you lose a bit of your identity – but all good things must come to an end.”