The first major Women’s world championship bout of 2024 will take place on Saturday, January 20th as two-division world champion Natasha Jonas will make the first defense of her IBF World Welterweight championship against former Unified Jr. Lightweight world champion Mikaela Mayer in Liverpool, England at the Echo Arena. A fight that can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+. Jonas and Mayer are not only two of the best female boxers in the entire sport, but in a wider context, this bout follows what was a significant year of progress for Women’s Boxing and the bout between the two should continue that momentum.
Natasha Jonas has won world championships in the Jr. Middleweight and Welterweight divisions and will come into this fight off of winning the IBF Welterweight world championship in her last outing in July of last year with an eighth round stoppage of Kandi Wyatt in Manchester, England. Although Jonas has now moved down in weight from the 154lb. Jr. Middleweight division to the 147lb. Welterweight division, she has punching power in both hands and has scored knockouts in nine of her fourteen career wins. Whether or not she will be able to use that punching power in what will be her first defense of the IBF crown remains to be seen. Jonas’ opponent on January 20th will likely prove to be a difficult task in the form of Mikaela Mayer.
Mayer will enter this fight on a two fight winning streak and is the current IBF number one Welterweight contender. Some will recall that Mayer had three successful defenses as a Jr. Lightweight world champion which saw her win the WBO world championship and unify it with the IBF world championship before she lost her crown in a very narrow ten round split decision loss to WBC/WBO world champion Alycia Baumgardner in what was a fight for the undisputed championship in the Jr. Lightweight division. While that fight could have gone either way, much like many bouts in Women’s Boxing fought with a two minute round length, the loss to Baumgardner, the only of Mayer’s career, did not lower Mayer’s standing as one of the top fighters in the sport. After brief stops in the Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight divisions in her last two bouts, Mayer now sets her sights on trying to become a two-division world champion.
While both fighters can do a little bit of everything, some would likely say that Jonas has an advantage both in regard to her punching power as she has four more knockouts than Mayer has in scoring five in her nineteen career wins, but also in terms of the fact that she has fought at heavier weights than the challenger has thus far in their respective careers. Both due to the fact that Women’s Boxing is still very much growing and also opportunities being sprinkled throughout weight classes, which usually offers an opportunity for fighters to move up and down the weight scale depending on what opportunities might be available including to fight for world championships, the fact that Mayer will be facing someone naturally bigger and theoretically stronger than her, does not necessarily equate to a disadvantage at least on paper. What Mayer does bring to the table is she is a highly skilled boxer with good hand speed, lateral movement, and has the ability to approach her opponents and attack at varying angles.
An element that could prove crucial in this fight is that like most world championship bouts, this will be scheduled for ten, two minute rounds as opposed to twelve, three minute rounds, which only recently made its way into Women’s Boxing. Both Jonas and Mayer have been in close fights that many feel should have gone their respective way and part of the reason why those fights were close was perhaps attributed to the two minute round length. Unless there is a change to both the scheduled distance and round length that might occur later than this writing prior to the bout taking place, the format the fight will be fought under, and skill level of both champion and challenger could result in a very closely fought contest and it will come down to which fighter will be able to control the tempo of the combat.
What this fight also represents is that Women’s Boxing remains committed not only to continuing to grow the sport for all who compete in it, but also a commitment to the adage of “The Best Fighting The Best.” Something that if their male counterparts could also do on as frequent a basis as female fighters have done and continue to do without the politics of the sport rearing its head. Boxing overall would truly be elevated to a higher level if that were the case.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
Jonas vs. Mayer takes place on Saturday, January 20th at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 2PM ET/11AM PT.
(*Card and Start times Subject to Change.*)
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