The first all-women’s British main event didn’t disappoint, as Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas looked to prove who the dominant star was. By the end of the second “Matchroom Fight Camp”, they got fans craving for more.
In Essex, London, Harper (10-0-1) and Jonas (9-1-1) fought to a split decision draw. The judges scored the bout 96-94 Harper, 96-95 Jonas, and an even split 95-95. As a result, Harper retained her WBC and IBO Super-Featherweight Titles.
“I know I hurt her,” said Harper. “She hurt me a few times. I’m disappointed by my performance but that was only my 11th competition on the big stage. That was a big learning fight for me. I felt it, I felt my legs go, I sucked it up and dug deep for the last two rounds. I knew she was a tough opponent but I didn’t expect her to come out like that! Massive respect. Tasha is someone I looked up to. I could tell the class she had. Maybe I underestimated her a bit.”
While she didn’t have as successful of an amateur record as Jonas (51-24) had, Harper felt confident. While she was disappointed, Harper ended up doing more than needed to survive.
It looked as if Jonas was going to have the advantage as the fight began, as the announce team noticed how rehydrated she looked compared to previous fights with tough weigh-ins. The former Olympic athlete would reach with jabs and a shot to the body. While she missed a counter right she would hit a body and a shot to the head that would snap Harper back. Left and right combination shots were thrown as the quick pace was already making for a classic.
Round two saw Harper bounce back, as she was pushing Jonas towards the ropes. Zigzagging her way out of Jonas’ shots, Harper managed to make Jonas bleed by her eyebrow via the clinch. She tried taking advantage of the cut, which resulted in the white tops of both fighters turning red. Harper would end the second with an inside uppercut and would start round three with jabs. Right away, the protective covering by Jonas’ eye was let loose due to Harper’s vicious shots.
Harper was learning as she was going, as she was able to dictate the pace. She landed combination shots and a sweeping left hook. Jonas would try and go for the big right shot but Harper would faint and counter with inside shots. Jabs would continue for Harper as Jonas’ team implored her to tighten things up. She would do so while also hitting body shots. Jonas would continue her run of shots while also taking advantage of Harper putting her hands down.
Round five is when things really kicked into high gear. Harper would start with a flurry of shots, and Jonas could counter with gut shots. Harper looked to impose her size against Jonas by pushing Jonas against the ropes. She would hit an uppercut while Jonas landed left hooks. At this point in round six, Jonas’ blood was all over both fighters. She would land a left hand that would rock Harper back. Harper would fight back again by pressing into Jonas with body shots. She would end the round with a huge right jab that brought her back into things.
Harper would continue to push Jonas by the ropes, even while the latter would hit shots to the head. By round eight, Jonas got a second wind. She started the round with a jab and left hand. That was the moment that Harper felt hurt. While missing a few shots, Jonas would go for the uppercut a few times. Harper’s team told her to “go for a walk” but she would only walk towards Jonas. She would find a way to stop Jonas just for a little while by keeping in range, all the while Jonas was landing left hands. This was the round that showed that the 36-year-old was here to stay.
“I won the eighth clearly,” said Jonas. “I thought I won the ninth and tenth. It was close. I had myself one or two up. History in the making and it was an honour to share them. She made some statements which I had to prove wrong, to her but to myself as well. All eyes were on women’s boxing and hopefully we made the public proud. One million percent I’d do that again!”
The last two rounds were eye-opening ones. Harper landed a jab and while fighting in the clinch, hit short hooks to the inside. Jonas landed a right but Harper continued to push forward. Inside shots were exchanged while Jonas had an advantage when it came to volume.
Jonas’ team was confident that they would have a win after two more minutes of action. Both would end up looking to prove they should get their hands raised; Harper would hit hooks while Jonas landed uppercuts. Harper would then land uppercuts and deep hooks. Jonas would hit a few more of her own. Both just let loose until the last bell rang.
Harper turned professional in 2017. She has been hoping to face Mikaela Mayer, who may be booked to fight Ewa Brodnicka for the WBO Super-Featherweight Title.
Jonas is now 3-1-1 in her last five fights.