Mayer’s fear factor motivating Jonas ahead of title clash

Natasha Jonas, former Olympian and two-weight world champion, is under no illusions about the task ahead as she steps through the ropes at the M&S Bank arena in her home city of Liverpool.

Jonas faces Mikaela Mayer (19-1, 5KOS) in the first defence of her IBF world welterweight title, which she added to her growing title collection in July courtesy of a stoppage win over Kandi Wyatt in a one-sided affair.

However, the Liverpudlian is aware of the threat Mayer poses and even listed the American as one of the pound-for-pound best female fighters in the sport.

“That’s the motivation, that’s the drive,” Jonas told Sky Sports. “For me to be saying I’m one of the best pound-for-pound fighters and move myself up that list, I have to be beating people in that list and that’s what she is. That’s what she brings.”

Jonas also believes facing an opponent of Mayer’s caliber will only serve to motivate her to bring out her best performances, citing previous encounters with Katie Taylor, Terri Harper and Marie Eve Dicaire. When jeopardy has been at its highest, Jonas has risen to the occasion.

“Sometimes I feel I need that fear factor to bring out the best in me,” Jonas said.

“We’ve seen it against [Terri] Harper and we’ve seen it against Katie Taylor and we’ve seen it in other fights; [Marie Eve] Dicaire, [Patricia] Berghult and [Chris] Namus, where you’re not always 100 per cent going to win and I do think that brings out the best in me and the best performances.

“Mikaela definitely gives me that fear factor. I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to be in my hometown losing to her or to anyone.”

Any boxer would be forgiven for wishing to hang up the gloves at the age of 39. Jonas turns 40 in the summer but achieved her ambition of becoming a world champion in 2022, aged 37, with victory against Chris Namus to claim the WBO super-welterweight championship in two rounds.

She believes that following her maiden world title win, there is less pressure on her, and that has allowed her to progress even further, becoming a two-weight champion.

“Once I got that Namus result and I got that win, I felt like a big stress and pressure was just lifted off my shoulders and I went back to enjoying boxing,” Jonas said.

“People have been saying your last few performances have been your best, and that’s because I’m not carrying that burden of trying to be a world champion.

“Now I’m more like, ‘Let’s go back to enjoying the boxing’. I proved to myself more than anyone else that I can be at that world level. Now, everything else that comes with it is a bonus.”