Katie Taylor has defeated Natasha Jonas via unanimous decision to retain her WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO lightweight titles.
Taylor earned a hard-fought 96-94, 96-95, 96-95 on the judges’ scorecards after 10 thrilling rounds against her former amateur rival at the Manchester Arena.
The Bray boxer, clad in her trademark black and gold, started on the front front against her English opponent, who she defeated in the 2012 London Olympics on her way to winning a gold medal.
Taylor danced in and out of range in the first, landing one juddering combination with Jonas forced back against the ropes. Katie broke through Jonas’ guard on several occasions in the second round, and both fighters avoided cuts after a clash of heads.
Liverpudlian Jonas struggled with the distance in the opening two rounds, but settled into the bout in the third. The 36-year-old caught Taylor with a flurry of punches early in the third, but the reigning champion responded immediately with a quick-fire combination of her own.
Both fighters let their hands go as the hugely entertaining third round wore on, before Taylor landed some eye-catching counters in the fourth. Jonas battled back in the fifth, and showed her power in the sixth, catching Taylor with a big shot after a barrage of punches from the Irish fighter.
Taylor, in trademark fashion, responded by upping the tempo and wrenching the momentum back in her favour.
The seventh round was a thrilling affair, with Jonas landing some good combinations and big punches, and Taylor showing her gritty side and responding in kind.
Both fighters continued to go toe-to-toe in the eighth, throwing a large volume of punches. Taylor stiffened Jonas’ legs with a right hook as she fought desperately to defend her status as undisputed lightweight champion of the world.
Katie landed another thumping right in the ninth, before the old foes once again went toe-to-toe in the 10th and final round.
The boxers embraced after the final bell, with the judges’ cards confirming Taylor’s victory.
The fight was on the undercard of Derek Chisora’s heavyweight clash against Joseph Parker.
‘Del Boy’ scored a knockdown after just seven seconds, but Parker battled back to earn a majority points decision in Manchester.
Earlier in the evening, Belfast boxer James Tennyson suffered a first-round stoppage defeat to Mexican Jovanni Straffon.
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