Natasha Jonas ticked off the latest milestone in her glistening career as she stopped Kandi Wyatt in the eighth round to claim the vacant IBF welterweight title and become a two-weight world champion in the process on Saturday.
The WBC, WBO and IBF light-middleweight champion had once wondered whether belts would ever fall her way as opportunities against Terri Harper and Katie Taylor passed her by; now, at the age of 39, she reigns as one of British boxing’s most decorated fighters.
Jonas erupted into life at the bell to the sound of a raucous Manchester crowd, rocking Wyatt early before dictating the tempo of the fight with clinical counter-shots and inflicting enough damage to the face of her opponent to force the referee Marcus McDonnell to bring the contest to a halt.
The Liverpudlian, who improves to 14-2-1 as a professional, had continued to play down retirement talk in the build-up to the fight, and with her latest victory remained on course to tee up further meetings with some of the marquee names in women’s boxing.
“It’s been such a journey, and they (the fans) have been with me every step of the way,” said Jonas.
“I know next is a holiday, I’ll go away for a whole month and enjoy my daughter and family.
“I don’t really care (who next), there are fights the fans want to see, there are fights Sky want to put on and there is stuff I want to do before I leave this game.”
Jonas exploded into life at the first bell and threatened an immediate conclusion with a fierce head-shot that thrust the Canadian, seemingly overwhelmed by a raucous atmosphere, into the ropes and battling to stay upright.
A slick right-left combination piled onto the punishment to snap back the head of Wyatt again as the visitor was barely afforded a moment to breathe.
The Jonas dominance continued with a slapping left hand early in the second, to which Wyatt looked to work her way into the fight by closing the distance and working the body on the inside.
For every rare front-foot attack from Wyatt came a ready-and-waiting counter from Jonas, whose sharp left jab capitalised on one approach before another powerful left hook in the third contributed towards her counterpart’s bloodying nose.
To her credit, Wyatt offered an admirable account of both her toughness and engine, but rarely looked like deciphering Jonas.
Another snappy left hand erased any effort Wyatt had made to take the fight on the inside again, and in the sixth Jonas sought to build as she prompted applause with a beautiful slide-and-strike upper-cut movement.
Cue another left jab to the face, with Jonas finishing in style with devastating doubled-up counter jabs to leave McDonnell with no choice but to wave the fight off.
Hunter wins fiery Bavington contest
April Hunter avenged her previous defeat to Kirstie Bavington as she landed a thumping knockdown on her way to victory on the referee’s scorecard in the opening bout of the night in Manchester.
Hunter had promised a different version of the fighter that came up second best when the pair met back in October 2021, and delivered on that front to edge it 76-75 and improve her record to 7-1.
Bavington had started the more productive of the two only to soon find blood streaming down the side of her face in the opening round following what had looked innocuous contact.
Her rival, with whom she had exchanged heated words earlier in the week, grew into the contest and underlined her progress in round seven with a clinical right hook to send Bavington onto her knees.
Bavington rallied to make up ground in the closing stages as the pair traded blows in a frenetic final round, Hunter though keeping her composure to see out the win.