AND STILL – Katie Taylor wins Olympic repeat with Natasha Jonas

Katie Taylor retained her four world title belts following a war in Manchester tonight

Chief support to the Derek Chisora v Joseph Parker pay-per-view at the AO Arena, the Bray lightweight slugged it out with old rival Natasha Jonas and edged home in thrilling fashion.

A bout nine years in the making, Taylor and ‘Miss GB’ went to war once again with the Irishwoman again coming out on top.

Joe Gallagher, trainer of Jonas, had suggested beforehand that 34-year-old Taylor was past her best but the Wicklow wonder was able to finish strong to take a close, but deserved, win

2020 had gone swimmingly for the undisputed champion who scored a more decisive win over Delfine Persoon in their rematch before dominating WBA mandatory Miriam Gutierrez in another high-profile outing.

This match-up was perhaps one to ‘fill a gap’ before bigger Stateside assaults but still came packed with narrative and attracting a lot of attention. The pro career of Jonas had been an odd one with a 2018 defeat to Viviane Obenauf seemingly obliterating any chances of a Taylor repeat before an unlucky draw with WBC super feather champ Terri Harper – in a fight where she was a colossal underdog – restored her status as a credible challenge to Taylor.

Of course, the pro journey was mostly irrelevant to the promotion – with all attention focused on the eardrum-shattering 2012 Olympic quarter-final which the Irishwoman won 26-15. That afternoon in London saw Taylor overcome a spirited effort from the Scouse battler, pulling away in the second half. It was similar – but much tighter – in Manchester tonight as the class of Taylor again won out in another high-quality contest.

It was cagey to start as both looked to score from long range, pair of right hands in the second half of the opener shading it for the champion.

Upping the pace in round two, Taylor began throwing punches in bunches as Jonas looked to score in between. A clash of heads angered the Liverpudlian and both were warned by referee Marcus McDonnell – although it was the Wicklow woman who appeared to be at fault.

Aggressively fighting in the clinch, Taylor instigated war in the third. Jonas responded with her first major shots but this, in turn, elicited more venom from the Bray boxer who was willing to fight fire with fire. Both did damage and, although Gallagher was roaring his approval and Jonas was heavier punches, the 36-year-old was looking uncomfortable.

The action slowed in the fourth and Taylor was picking the cleaner punches from range.

Jonas backed Taylor to the ropes in the first minute of the fifth but Taylor fought out well with hooks both upstairs and down.

Going into the second half there was plenty of drama. Taylor landed a sweet flurry but appeared to be knocked off balance momentarily when she was spun and clocked with a straight left hand – the best punch of the fight at that stage.

Jonas enjoyed a strong seventh, landing hard and often as Taylor was forced to bite down on the gumshield and the bout threatened to unravel.

The Olympic gold medallist came back busily in the eighth, taking an enormous bodyshot for her troubles before stiffening the legs of Jonas with a straight right hand.

A very good ninth saw Taylor outland Jonas comprehensively and halt the momentum of the Englishwoman.

Jonas came out aggressively in the tenth, landing clean shots and Taylor responded in-kind, outworking her game challenger and finishing strong up against the ropes in a truly epic stanza.

Moving slightly nervously to the cards, Taylor was rightly confirmed a unanimous decision winner with cards of 96-95 twice and 96-94, with Jonas and her team applauding the decision.

Irish-Boxing.com scored the bout 96-94 to Katie Taylor who improves to 18(6)-0 while the likeable warrior Jonas drops to 9(7)-2(1)-1

The four belts at lightweight locked down, the most makeable mega-fight would appear to be a rematch with undisputed welterweight queen Jessica McCaskill. Whether this will be next remains to be seen or if another fight at lightweight – perhaps against Olympic champ Estelle Mossely – will take place in the interim

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie