Natasha Jonas defends IBF welterweight belt to Mikaela Mayer
Newly-crowned champion Natasha Jonas (14-2-1, 9KO) returns to Liverpool to defend her IBF world welterweight strap against maiden challenger Mikaela Mayer in front of her Merseyside faithful.
After unifying three titles up at super-welterweight, 39-year-old Jonas became a two-weight world champion by defeating Canada's Kandi Wyatt in her only fight of 2023.
Now, she finds herself in a 50/50 matchup at the M&S Bank Arena on Saturday, January 20 , live on Sky Sports in the UK.
Miss GB’s last outing at the same venue back in 2022 saw her dethrone the WBC world super-welterweight champion, Patricia Berghult, in a scintillating performance over 10 rounds.
As she continues to campaign in the higher divisions, Jonas’ fight against Wyatt, who was stopped in the 8th, proved that the former super-featherweight has maintained her power, with an ability to dart in-and-out of range and create angles only enhancing the impact of her stinging shots.
Even approaching 40, Jonas has shown no signs of regression, despite a long amateur career and several professional bouts at the highest level, including two close 10-rounders against Katie Taylor and Terri Harper where, in both, you could argue, she was unlucky not to come away with the belts.
With the aim of making the M&S Bank (formally Echo) Arena her fortress, Jonas will take comfort from its familiarity, as she looks to extend her five-fight winning run.
Her opponent, however, having fought over here in her last three contests, is more than used to the baying British crowd.
But against Jonas, the American will be well and truly in the away corner, expected to negotiate an atmosphere that many others have succumbed to.
Since Mayer’s defeat to Alycia Baumgardner – a contest that many believe she edged – the former unified super-featherweight champion has flown through the divisions in just under 15 months, with her last fight at 141 lbs.
While this jump in weight might seem drastic, the 33-year-old is now able to train without being in calorie deficit and, standing at 5 feet 9 inches, is unlikely to be undersized come fight night, with Jonas just an inch shorter in height.
In many ways, with regards to development, the two fighters have led similar trajectories in their careers. Both were well-schooled amateurs who went to the Olympics, with Jonas, at London 2012, famously losing to Taylor, and Mayer, at Rio 2016, crashing out before reaching the quarter-finals.
While Jonas is undoubtedly the bigger puncher – boasting a higher knockout percentage – it is likely to be a more technical affair on the 20th, with Mayer sticking behind the jab and Jonas looking to land bombs at mid-range.
The fact that Mayer has not faced a southpaw as a professional, though, could play a factor, as while she has claimed to be enjoying her sparring sessions in preparation for Jonas, it will still be just one training camp, out of 21, that she has dedicated to fighting a leftie.
Moreover, the home crowd will inevitably spur Jonas on down the stretch if, in the later rounds, she is needing to up the work rate to put her nose in front on the scorecards.
Needless to say, these are merely fine margins, but often, they can make the biggest difference in an evenly-matched fight, giving Jonas a slight advantage over Mayer.
4/5 Natasha Jonas
11/8 Mikaela Mayer
I would pick Jonas to win on points after a close contest.