Natasha Jonas has vowed to thrive in her underdog role against Katie Taylor and exact revenge that is nine years in the making.
Jonas challenges for Taylor’s undisputed lightweight championship on the Derek Chisora vs Joseph Parker bill on May 1, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with the return of Chris Eubank Jr and Dmitry Bivol’s WBA title defence against Craig Richards on the same blockbuster show.
Ireland’s Taylor eliminated Team GB’s Jonas at the 2012 Olympics en route to capturing the gold medal.
Jonas told Sky Sports that she has evolved since then: “I believe so. I’m strong, I punch better, my shot selection is better, I’m fitter. I believe in these things.
“To totally write me off is the wrong thing to do.
“Sometimes I am guilty of going down to an opponent’s level or not raising my game. But in situations where I’m the underdog? I always do well.
“I was never expecting to qualify for the Olympics but I did that.
“There have been a lot of times in my career when I’ve been the favourite and things haven’t worked out for me. But when I’m the underdog I get through the challenge.
“I’m not the same person, she’s not the same person. It’s about who we are right at this present time.
“I’m not fighting her ego, I’m fighting the woman in front of me, and she’s doing the same.”
Jonas insists that her Olympic battle with Taylor is a “fond memory” although she hadn’t re-watched the fight in its entirety until April 2020.
“There are things that I’m frustrated by,” she recalled. “I wish I had more rounds – which I do now.
“It was a great fight but, professionally, it’s a whole different thing. More rounds, you have more time, you’re not worried about points.
“I’m a different boxer now. I choose my shots better.
“There were a lot of things I did right – but she was better on the day.”
Liverpool’s Jonas, 36, appeared to have her world title dreams ended in 2018 by a shock loss to Viviane Obenauf, an opponent that Taylor has beaten.
But last year’s split decision draw against WBC super-featherweight champion Terri Harper has propelled Jonas into another opportunity to claim gold.
Jonas insists that she will use the same mentality to shock Taylor: “I’ve heard all this before and it wasn’t long ago, and I proved those people wrong.
“One of the biggest things for me was being mentally right. For the Terri Harper camp, people said I couldn’t do it, I was too old, unfit, struggled at the weight, she was the new up-and-the-comer. The more motivation and drive it gave me.
“Mentally I was absolutely flying and I will get myself back there.
“I’ve announced myself at world level, I’ve dusted off the Viviane Obenauf [defeat] and I’m here to stay.”
Harper has turned her attention to a unification fight with WBA champion Hyun-Mi Choi rather than settle the score with Jonas.
“I don’t think she personally is an issue or a problem,” Jonas said. “But her team put her in situations and guide her down a path that is unbeknown to her. It is an avoidance tactic.
“The fight was offered to me but it was never an immediate rematch, it was always two or three fights away.
“That’s for her to get her confidence back but I dented it slightly.”
Instead Jonas’ gameness has landed her an opportunity at Taylor who she rates above Claressa Shields as the world’s No 1 female boxer.
“I think she is,” Jonas said about Taylor. “There are accolades to say otherwise. But from amateur all the way through, she has been the standout performer. She’s the one that most people look up to. She set the bar and people have had to raise their game.
“She has my respect but, inside the ring, she will have to earn it.
“She is the one that people have played catch-up to. When she turned pro it brought in a whole new audience.
“I’ve always wanted to be a world champion and to have all the belts would be the best thing yet.
“No disrespect to Terri but Katie is a different type of animal, a different type of competitor that I’m putting myself in front of.
“I’ve got to beat Terri and a lot better.”