Women’s Ratings Update: Jonas in at No. 4 at 154, Lescano enters at No. 5 at lightweight
The long-expected rise to the top by former amateur star Natasha Jonas has finally materialized. “Miss GB” is officially a world titlist after demolishing former champ Chris Namus in two rounds, picking up the WBO junior middleweight belt in the process.
Jonas (11-2-1, 8 KOs) had a few missed opportunities along the way, most notably a very disputed draw against Terri Harper in a junior lightweight bout and a close decision loss to pound-for-pound queen Katie Taylor for the lightweight title.
So it did come as a surprise that Jonas would jump all the way to the junior middleweight division to seek a title opportunity. And once there, she came into the fight weighing only a quarter-pound above the welterweight limit. However questionable this may be, it was clear that Jonas had more than enough to beat a credible opponent like Namus (who weighted only two pounds more than Jonas) in decisive fashion, but one has to wonder how credible this achievement may be in the bigger picture, given that a potential unification with other fellow champs in that division would place Jonas at a huge weight disadvantage. Unless, of course it can be interpreted as a one-off title grab purely for bragging rights and deceitful career stats, as it has been the case in boxing’s recent history regardless of gender.
Aside from this analysis, the fact that Jonas earned her first title belt by stoppage in a higher division, coupled with her potential as well as her extensive resume, was more than enough for the panel to have her move in at No. 4 in the junior middleweight division, taking into account her talent but also her nonexistent body of work in this division and the comparison of her new achievement with those of other fighters who have spent a larger portion of their careers in this division.
“Natasha Jonas has been chasing a world title belt since she turned professional. It is also a fact of women’s boxing, still, that women often move up and down weight classes, at times significantly. I am not a proponent of it, but understand it is still necessary from time to time,” said boxing historian Malissa Smith. “That having been said, Jonas acquitted herself very well in her two rounds against Chris Namus, with knockdowns in the first and second rounds before Namus’ corner threw in the towel. And Jonas has also immediately sought to unify her new 154-pound title, calling out fellow champion Hannah Rankin.”
Lupi Gutierrez-Beagle, of Beautiful Brawlers, agreed by saying that “the changes sound good to me. In terms of weight, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to get the (title) fights.”
While a lot of panelists expected Jonas to cruise to victory, not many of them expected Namus to fold so quickly.
“I must say that I was surprised by Namus’s performance,” said Irene Deserti, editor of Rincon Rojo magazine. “While I didn’t have her as a favorite to win the match, at least I thought she would make it to the scorecards. Anyway, I feel like Jonas took the opportunity where the title was available. The change of division was noticeable in her body.”
The lack of depth in Jonas’ new division was also taken into account.
“The junior middleweight division isn’t loaded with talent, and even after her poor performance, Chris Namus is still the fifth-best in the world,” said boxing columnist Mark Jones. “I questioned the durability of Natasha Jonas after packing on fifteen pounds since her Katie Taylor loss. Still, she impressively won her first world title by channeling her inner Jack Dempsey and knocking out her larger and more experienced opponent in the second round. She had a great night.”
By taking Jonas out of the lightweight ratings, where she was listed as No. 4, a new vacancy was created. The panel agreed to elevate Argentina’s Yanina Lescano into the Top 5, moving Miriam Gutierrez up one spot in the process.
“The Argentine boxer has been having a good campaign, and (her upcoming) fight with (No. 3 rated Estelle) Mosselly will be the most important of her career,” said panelist Yesica Palmetta, who has followed Lescano’s career closely.