Natasha Jonas, now the WBO super-welterweight champion, wants to make the first defence of her title this September in her Liverpool hometown, and she won’t wait much longer for Hannah Rankin to agree to the fight.
Scottish rival Rankin holds the WBA title belt and is a natural opponent. The two have traded barbs on social media but so far nothing has been signed.
“They like to blame it on us. I understand there’s a business of boxing but they’re making it difficult,” insisted Jonas, speaking to Sky Sports. “It’s a long time out [from a fight date in September] but I want to know who I’m boxing and regardless of that, I’m not going to wait around forever for her, if that’s what she wants.”
The Liverpudlian has set a deadline of a week for her next opponent to be confirmed.
If it’s not to be Rankin, Jonas has already suggested three alternative names to her promoter Ben Shalom. Marie Eve Dicaire, Cynthia Lozano and Marianne Ahlborg are on her shortlist. Canada’s Dicaire, whose sole career loss came against Claressa Shields, is the holder of the IBF super-welterweight title. That underscores Jonas’ ambition.
“We’re in the era, luckily enough, of one belt just isn’t enough, especially for the females. Everyone doesn’t only want to be a champion, they want to be unified or they want to be undisputed. If I could get an undisputed, that would be me done,” she said.
Jonas is not finished yet, though winning her WBO belt against Chris Namus on the Amir Khan vs Kell Brook bill in February was a huge milestone for her. While Jonas was the first female British boxer to qualify for an Olympic Games, as a professional she’d just missed out in two previous world title bids. To even get her third chance she had to jump up three weight classes to super-welter. Namus had come in at short notice, but Jonas never expected to stop her with such a spectacular knockout.
“She was no pushover. She’d been a champion before. Dicaire beat her for her belt,” Jonas said. “I don’t think [Rankin] would be fighting her [Namus]. She was in the top five. She’s no mug is what I’m trying to say. I know she got given short notice.
“I had literally prepared for a 10-round fight. Everyone was saying, Joe [Gallagher, her trainer] in particular, you are not going to knock this girl out. You’ve got to keep on your feet, stay smart, keep switched on and just box. That’s all you’ve got to do, it’s the amateur style, just box. Score your points, get away… He was lying!
“I think if anyone hits anyone clean, you’re in trouble.”
To win the title, in that style, at the third and potentially final time of asking was thrilling. But it was also a weight off Jonas’ shoulders. “It’s alright saying you’re good enough, knowing you’re good enough and believing you’re good enough. When you haven’t actually got the credential to prove it, it’s hard,” Natasha explained. “I was happy [to win] and I was everything and I was overjoyed and it was full of emotion. But the biggest emotion was relief. I thought, ‘Oh my God, thank God for that.’
“You know on Sky and you see the little [graphics] pop up and they say ‘world title challenger’. Every time I was on Sky it was coming up ‘Natasha Jonas – world title challenger’. I just wanted that to say world champion. You know when I’ll retire it’ll say former world champion. That looks good. I just wanted it for peace of mind.”