Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas battle to a draw, Harper retains WBC 130-pound title
Terri Harper may feel a touch relieved to retain her WBC junior lightweight title on a split decision draw after 10 tough rounds against former Olympian Natasha Jonas at the Matchroom HQ in Brentwood, Essex on Friday. The official scores were 96-94 Harper, 96-95 Jonas, with the third judge unable to split the pair at 95-95.
Both women turned in courageous performances, and a rematch was being discussed within moments of the decision being announced.
“I hurt her, she hurt me a few times,” said Harper (10-0-1, 5 knockouts) in her post-right interview with Sky Sports in the U.K. “I’m disappointed with my performance, but I’m 23 years old, and I only had 16 amateur fights.”
Jonas (9-1-1, 5 knockouts) got off to a great start in Round 1, working well behind a southpaw jab and crossing the left hand to head and body. That success continued in the second, but Harper suddenly opened a cut lateral to Jonas’ right eye which changed the flow.
The third was full of action and that switch in tempo should have suited Harper who at 23 stood to benefit from a 13-year age differential. But it was difficult to separate the pair in the ensuing rounds, with some high quality on the inside and on the outside.
The pace remained frenetic and one had the feeling that the older women might wilt.
However, Jonas nailed Harper with a huge left hand-right hook combination at the start of the eighth and the power was telling. The shots had an immediate effect and Jonas capitalized by sweeping the session.
Another big right hook landed for Jonas in the ninth and the challenger was now landing the cleaner, more effective blows. Harper’s legs suddenly looked heavy and she was unable to impose her youth and energy on Jonas.
Not to be outdone, Harper responded with a strong 10th round and that effort probably saved her title.
“I put on a good performance and I’m just gutted I’m not coming home with the belts,” said Jonas. “It’s just one of them nights and hopefully all those people on the fence about women’s boxing now say they enjoyed it.
The bout made history as the first all-British female world title bout.
Liverpool’s former amateur star Anthony Fowler (13-1, 9 KOs) looked sharp in dismantling Adam Harper (9-1) over seven rounds. The bout was scheduled for 10 and was contested at junior middleweight.
Fowler was deducted a point for low blows in the second, but he had things all his own way in terms of legal punches. The jab burst its way through Harper’s defenses and set up heavy power shots that produced cuts around his opponent’s left eye and nose.
A ferocious right produced a knockdown in Round 4, and Fowler closed in the seventh with a quick one-two and a follow up burst, forcing referee Ian John Lewis to stop the contest at 1:34.
Chris Billam-Smith (11-1, 10 KOs) retained his Commonwealth cruiserweight championship for the first time with an explosive second-round stoppage of Nathan Thorley (14-1, 6 KOs). The bout was scheduled for 12.
Billam-Smith, who won the title by stopping Craig Glover impressively in November, decked Thorley at the end of the first. The challenger responded well in Round 2 and held his own in some furious exchanges, but he found himself on the floor for a second time. The final knockdown was highlight reel stuff as Billam-Smith drew his man into a corner and intercepted an attack with a huge right to the jaw. Thorley beat the count but referee Mark Lyson called a halt. The official time was 2:05.
Former amateur standout Ivan “Hopey” Price (3-0, 1 KO) scored a six-round unanimous decision shutout over a game Jonny Phillips (5-5, 2 KOs) at featherweight. Referee Ian John Lewis, the lone judge, scored the bout 60-54.
Price, a tall and sharp southpaw, was forced to contend with the roughhouse tactics and strength of Phillips, but the 20-year-old’s superior skills kept him several steps ahead. A brisk jab was there from the opening bell, and Price layered his performance as the rounds passed, mixing in some nice body shots and quick combinations upstairs.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing