Still undefeated Katie Taylor is the undisputed Queen at lightweight, but the Irish icon was pushed to her limits by Natasha Jonas in a 10-round sweeping competition.
It was a drastic decision, which saw Taylor (96-94, 96-95, 96-95) victory over the cards, deserved a tumultuous crowd in Manchester, where both women showed great desire alongside their skills, as each round made a comeback and a fourth action.
Taylor’s twelfth successive fight for the world title, with her quadruple belts on the line in the 2012 Olympic rematch, was one of her most exciting matches to date thanks to the Liverpool opponent’s powerful arsenal and power that lasts the distance.
The battle blazed from the opening bell, with an intense opening that kept the two women close enough to fit inside the phone booth. But it was Taylor’s speed and precise movement that made her take the lead.
But the margins for error were evidently slim, as Taylor dipped her head in the second round, grazing Jonas’ brow to let out a cry of protest.
Despite Taylor’s busy approach, Jonas quickly crowded, deflating the heavier shots in the third, while leaving a crackle behind her clever southern chin.
That sparked encouragement from Jonas’ coach, Joe Gallagher, who shouted, “She’s everywhere, Tasha.”
Boxing is always at its best when the styles fit right, and this was a prime example of one of Taylor’s strengths, her passion for getting off early and controlling exchanges, playing into Jonas’ hands, giving her chances, with the 36-year-old finding her coolness to contend with nicely.
Jonas started sitting on her shots on the seventh as well, sliding to the right and digging into the flesh, but Taylor is incredibly persevering with directing rarely dropping.
Belief was growing in the competitor’s corner, as uncertainty grew over how the judges would interpret the contest.
And while Taylor’s separation has been evident for years, it is her strength that is here. It was deserving of appreciation from a colossal crowd, but the good exchange, deep into the battle, resulted in cries louder and louder from every angle.
The assortment of female shots kept it guessing: Jonas turned up late as Taylor found a home for the left hook along with a textbook straight right.
As he entered the battle for the capture of the final two rounds of this competition, Taylor decisively found a second wind, which ultimately proved vital to the outcome of the fight. A series of shots closed the ninth and tenth rounds.
She needed it too, with Jonas’ commitment to the flesh and the buildup of pressure, only for Taylor to screw it onto the ropes, emptying the tank when the last bell sounded.
The rematch is sure to be waiting down the line, with Taylor afterwards delivering that her opponent “has everything it takes to win a world game.” However, Taylor’s legendary career continues, this time her determination and determination to enable her to overcome one of the toughest challenges she has faced so far.