Both Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer had questions to answer in tonight’s IBF welterweight title fight in Liverpool.

Having competed as a super featherweight for so long, how would Mayer handle a physically strong welterweight?

Since losing to Alicia Baumgardner in their unified 130lb title fight back in October 2022, the American has moved up steadily towards the welterweight division, but questions remained as to how her high-pressure style would work at the higher weight and whether her punch power would get Jonas’ respect.

Jonas (15-2-1, 9 KO’s) made a similar move herself. After losing to Katie Taylor in a shot at the Irish legend’s undisputed lightweight title in 2021, she made the jump up to the super welterweight division and hoovered up three world title belts in nine months. She then dropped down to welterweight and beat Kandi Wyatt for this IBF title.

Mayer (19-2, 5 KO’s) was by far the best quality fighter the Liverpudlian has faced since that dramatic fight with Taylor, however. Did she have what it takes to beat a top-level operator?

Mayer got onto the front foot, tentatively feeling her way forward. For her part, Jonas willingly edged away but threw hard when Mayer stopped in front of her to punch, hoping to make Mayer feel her power quickly. 

Mayer threw more in the second round. Jonas wasn’t panicked into getting off first, instead she allowed Mayer to walk into her punches. Mayer did have her first real success in the second, forcing Jonas into quiet few seconds but the champion soon answered back. 

Jonas was happy to move away and pick counter right hooks before stepping away to the side but was equally happy to hold her feet and punch in two and threes. However, Mayer, seemingly undeterred by the power, pressed forward, hands up and continued to work behind straight punches.

 Before the fight, much was made of Mayer having not boxed a southpaw as a professional but she seems to be working out the problems quickly. The right hand was beginning to land down the center and she began to build up her trademark head of steam, pushing Jonas into the ropes more and more frequently.

Jonas tried to swing the momentum back in her favor at the start of the sixth, firing in three successive left hands. Mayer absorbed them and began to push Jonas back, landing one particularly hard right to the body. Both fighters seemed to want to invest in the body but Mayer put an exclamation mark on the round with a hard chopping right hand.

Mayer had seemingly found the answers to her own personal questions. She appeared to be strong and fit at the weight and the Liverpudlian’s power didn’t seem to be bothering her too much. Jonas on the other hand was having to figure out how to deal with a world class fighter who was gaining in confidence.

The seventh round felt like a key round in the fight. Mayer committed to an all-out attack. Jonas tried her hardest to go with her and enjoyed plenty of success, particularly with solid hooks to the body but Mayer appeared to be the physically stronger fighter.

Jonas responded well in the eighth, working well under pressure to find openings. She took a solid left hook as she backed onto the ropes but found plenty of room to land her own left. The battle lines were drawn between Mayer’s pressure and volume, and Jonas' clean punches. 

Mayer stormed out for the tenth round. Whereas Jonas, now badly marked up around the left eye, had been willing to go onto the back foot, now she found herself forced there. It was a strong finish from Mayer who kept her hands going to the final bell and walked through everything Jonas could respond with.

There was tension whilst the fighters waited to find out who had won. 

Diana Drews Milano gave the fight to Mayer by a score of 97-93 but she was overruled by Frank Lombardi scored the fight 96-94 and Michael Alexander who scored the fight 96-95, both for Jonas. 

Jonas retains her title by split decision and has the victory over an elite opponent she has always craved.