Natasha ‘Miss GB’ Jonas claimed a world title at the third time of asking with a second round stoppage of former world champion Chris ‘El Bombon Asesino’ Namus in Manchester.
Jonas had come agonizingly close twice before, having battled Terri Harper to a split decision draw in a world junior lightweight clash in 2020 and dropping a tight points decision to Katie Taylor for all four lightweight world titles a year later. Jonas had now jumped up three weight classes for this opportunity against former IBF junior middleweight queen Namus.
IN THE RED CORNER – NATASHA JONAS (10-2-1, 7KO)
Liverpool based fighter Jonas flew out to a 9-1 start in her career before coming up just short in her first bid for world title gold with the frustrating draw to Harper. Jonas performed well in another title bid against pound for pound great Katie Taylor and came up just short by scores of 96-95, 96-95 and 96-94 in a bid to become undisputed lightweight world champion.
Jonas bounced back from the Taylor defeat with a convincing points win over Vaida Masiokaite before making the jump to junior middleweight for this world title clash against Namus. A promise made to her daughter Mela to “bring the belt home” was a major source of motivation for Jonas in this clash and Mela was close to Jonas throughout the fight, with her name displayed on the fight shorts and scribbled onto the handwraps of ‘Miss GB.’
IN THE BLUE CORNER – CHRIS NAMUS (25-6, 8KO)
Jonas was originally scheduled to face another former world champion in the form of Ewa Piatkowska on this card, with the Polish veteran withdrawing due to a failed COVID test. Namus stepped in on short notice and would be looking for her second world title in the junior middleweight division after outpointing Yamila Reynoso for the vacant IBF crown in 2017.
After a successful title defense on the scorecards against Katia Alvarino, Namus lost her crown via unanimous decision to Marie Eve Dicaire. Victory in a non-title rematch against Reynoso was followed by a loss to then undefeated Ema Kozin last time out for the veteran Uruguayan.
There was a sizable and lively crowd in attendance for the clash at the Manchester Arena, with the bout being chief support for the all-British grudge match main event between Amir Khan and Kell Brook. There was also some Soccer star power in attendance, with Liverpool fan Jonas having the support of club legend Jamie Carragher from ringside, while Jonas was backed in person by Uruguay national team striker and Manchester United star Edison Cavani.
A smiling Namus made her way to the ring as heavy guitar music played, while a determined looking Jonas lingered on the entrance ramp before striding to the ring to the sounds of Beyonce lyrics ‘Girls Run the World,’ Jonas now had her chance to do just that with a victory here.
Namus took up position in the center of the ring to open the fight while Jonas bounced on her toes and launched attacks from range. At the one minute mark, Jonas wrestled Namus onto the ropes and scored with a stiff left hand before the Uruguayan circled out of danger.
The nimble Jonas was providing a moving target for Namus and connected with two scoring blows down the pipe before flooring her opponent with a zinging left-right combination. Namus received an eight count from referee Howard Foster before continuing and was saved from another Jonas assault by the bell.
After the round ended, Namus stumbled slightly against referee Foster as she made her way back to her corner for some much needed respite.
Sensing blood in the water, Jonas flew out of the gate in round two, launching flurries of punches before sending Namus onto her back for a second time. The trainer of the Uruguayan climbed the ring holding a towel, with Namus protesting to prevent it being thrown in.
Despite the protestations of Namus, referee Foster had seen enough and waved off the fight as Namus dropped to her knees in disappointment.
Newly crowned world champion Jonas celebrated wildly with her team before the result was officially announced that this Liverpool girl did now indeed ‘run the world.’
WHAT THEY SAID
An emotional Jonas was full of praise for trainer Joe Gallagher after the fight, citing how he had supported her through times she believed the day of becoming world champion would never come. Gallagher and Jonas had “cried in the car” together after her knockout defeat at the hands of Viviane Obenauf in 2018, and now had reached the summit of the sport together.
Jonas thanked both Gallagher and her fans for the support on her journey to a world title, before proudly looking into the camera to tell Mela that “Mummy did it,” having fulfilled her promise of taking home world championship gold to her beloved daughter.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER
Jonas will be a big draw as a world title holder who carries uncommon punching power, having achieved eight of her 11 career victories by way of knockout. Stopping Namus was a feat that had not been achieved by world champions Cecilia Braekhus and Dicaire, who both topped the Uruguayan on the scorecards after 10 round battles.
A potential unification clash against reigning WBA junior middleweight world champion Hannah Rankin from north of the border could loom on the horizon for Jonas. Rankin was on commentary for this fight and when questioned about the possibility replied by asking the question “who doesn’t like an England v Scotland fight?”
WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER
Though the manner of defeat will have been disappointing, Namus entered this fight ranked number four on the Ring Magazine junior middleweight list and remains a top presence in the division. A South American rivalry clash against Mexican veteran Cynthia Lozano would be an entertaining affair, with both fighters coming off defeats to high level opposition, Lozano having lost to Dicaire in December.
Author’s Scorecard (round by round)
Stewart Flaherty is a freelance boxing journalist who can be followed on twitter @graniteboxing1