Riding the crest of a wave featuring marquee victories for Alycia Baumgardner and Claressa Shields over the past month, Natasha Jonas faces Canada’s Marie Eve Dicaire in a world super-welterweight title unification headliner at Manchester’s AO Arena. Aware big bouts remain in the pipeline with a main event victory tonight, can the Scouser deliver in her final act of 2022?
An active Natasha is dangerous, Jonas insists
Liverpool’s Jonas (12-2-1, 8 KOs) faces Canada’s Dicaire (18-1, 1 KO) to round off a busy bill on an action-packed night of combat sport.
In Las Vegas, Denzel Bentley dares to be great against the fearsome Janibek Alimkhanuly in the early hours overnight, while unbeaten light-welterweight Montana Love returns in Cleveland.
Jonas is the only defending champion though, with a statement to make against Dicaire.
The 36-year-old, who lost a UD to Shields in March 2021, scored the first stoppage win of her career last time out against Cynthia Lozano. That result came on December 17 last year, so this represents the Quebec native’s first and only fight of 2022.
As far as she’s concerned, activity gives Natasha a favourable advantage while refusing to take too much stock into Shields’ UD10 win over her upcoming opponent as styles make fights.
“I think it’s been the kind of year that every boxer craves. I’ve always said that an active Natasha is dangerous.
Joe [Gallagher, her trainer] is one of the most meticulous people when it comes to working out plans and we are prepared for the best version of her.”
Meanwhile, Shields surveys the scene at 154lbs
Shields has stated her intention to drop down to junior middleweight again after achieving undisputed status at 160lbs again, outclassing historical rival Savannah Marshall last month.
Terri Harper is the other divisional titleholder and fought to a split draw against Jonas in Aug. 2020.
The undefeated three-division champion is open to fights against either British titlist at 154lbs, but recently admitted she’d prefer to face Jonas after noticing the 38-year-old had a lot to say – not particularly positive – about her against Marshall.
Per BoxingScene.com, Shields said:
“Either or, but Natasha was doing an interview and saying Savannah was gonna knock me out, that when she lands, girls don’t get up. She was just riding her coattails so hard, I really wanna beat her up some more.
Right now, we wanna have fights that are big. Women at 154 right now have the names and fans, and they’re both from the UK, Jonas and Harper. I think those fights would be great for the sport again.”
Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom briefly spoke about Jonas’ desire to be the division’s money fight, in what is the final stages of her professional career.
Chantelle Cameron boxed beautifully to overwhelm undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill last weekend and become the UK’s first female undisputed champion at super-lightweight, though the latter still holds belts at 147lbs.
Shalom described it as the obvious fight and one he wants to make for Jonas next year, among others like a Katie Taylor rematch in quotes relayed by Sky Sports:
“That’s the thing with Tasha now she’s become world champion, which really was her dream and what she needed, to be honest, after how much she’s given to the sport, she’s now in a position where all she wants is the big names and at whatever weight as well. She can box at anything from 140 to 154lbs.
“She wants the legacy defining fights for her career. Came very close against Katie Taylor, one of the closest anyone’s come to beating Katie. Got very unlucky against Terri, has the bit between her teeth.”
However, she doesn’t need to be told about the old adage of looking past hurdles before they’ve been cleared and is happy about a beneficial camp:
“I don’t look past Saturday – there’s no point, because if Saturday doesn’t go right, the options close. So all the focus is on finishing the year with a bang. For the first time in a long time I have really enjoyed this camp.
You rarely get a camp for southpaw vs southpaw as there’s not that many of them, so in this camp I have learned so much and added so much to my repertoire, it’s been great.”
Dicaire has been criticised in some quarters for appearing too smiley and cordial, ahead of her big spot – less than two years after a shutout by Shields.
“When I was a kid, I was telling people I will be a professional athlete and everyone laughed.
Now here I am, the main event at the AO Arena in Manchester. Dreams do come true and nothing will stop me from getting the win on Saturday night!”
It’s best to leave the confrontation and aggression for fight night, but Dicaire appears all too calm in what could be her final chance at world level. So, does she know something we don’t?
Elsewhere on the card…
We’ll get another indication of just how good Sheffield’s 25-year-old super-lightweight Dalton Smith (12-0, 10 KOs) is against Kaisee Benjamin.
He won the British title last time out with a stoppage win over Sam O’Maison, but Birmingham’s Benjamin (16-1-1, 6 KOs) represents a worthy challenge.
Tokyo Olympics’ heavyweight bronze medallist Frazer Clarke should finally get some solid rounds under his belt against Poland’s Kamil Sokolowski – who many believe bested unbeaten David Adeleye last April.
After a first-round finish in June, cruiserweight prospect Viddal Riley returns against unbeaten 36-year-old Ross McGuigan.
Full card, is as follows
First fight around 5pm, undercard at 7pm, main around 10pm BST
IBF, WBC, WBO super-welterweight titles: Natasha Jonas (c) vs. Marie Eve Dicaire (c)
British super-lightweight title: Dalton Smith vs. Kaisee Benjamin
English middleweight title: Tyler Denny vs. Bradley Rea
Heavyweight: Frazer Clarke vs. Kamil Sokolowski
Cruiserweight: Viddal Riley vs. Ross McGuigan
Lightweight: Dylan Cheema vs. Jordan Ellison
Welterweight: Clark Smith vs. Dale Arrowsmith
Middleweight: Jack Kilgannon vs. Meshack Mwankemwa
Picture source: Getty Images