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Judges ‘Rob’ Mikaela Mayer Of Deserved Win As Natasha Jonas Defends IBF Title Successfully And Controversially

Judges Rob Mikaela Mayer Of Deserved Win As Natasha Jonas Defends IBF Title Successfully featured image
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Natasha Jonas celebrates with her belt alongside trainer Joe Gallagher after victory in the IBF World Welterweight Title fight between Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer at M&S Bank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

American former 130 lbs unified champion Mikaela Mayer lost for the second time of her career in a controversial split-decision loss to British multi-division champion Natasha Jonas who was competing in the main event alongside Mayer in her hometown of Liverpool at the Echo Arena on Saturday, January 20th. While the two women were competitive throughout the 10-round bout, the judges opted to hand the win to the hometown winner with scorecards of 96-95, 93-97 (in favor Mayer) and 96-94.

While both women put on a show worth talking about, especially given they headlined for the Boxxer-promoted fight card, there was a sense of injustice as Mikaela Mayer (19-2, 5 KO’s) received the short end of the stick despite clearly having done enough to win her match. Natasha Jonas (15-2-1, 9 KO’s) was a worthy and tough competitor but missed out on truly making her mark during the match; especially as the bout headed into the later rounds.

The key difference between the two seemed to be Mayer’s overall boxing ability, physical prowess and conditioning as she landed more shots overall, and landed the more important shots. CompuBox, a computerized system that records punch statistics during boxing matches, did not indicate a clear winner but did depict Jonas as the more efficient fighter while Mayer was considered the more active fighter in comparison:

CompuBox’s stats on the 10-round match between Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer.

While it is expected that judges do not use CompuBox as they are required to form their scores based on their own observations, the odd set of scores that favored Jonas as the winner certainly did not reflect what actually occurred during the match.

As CompuBox’s stats indicate, Natasha Jonas had made body work the clear focus of her match but ultimately it proved to be unsuccessful as Mikaela Mayer appeared to solidly win most of the rounds. Both fighters were tremendously active during the match, as indicated by CompuBox’s own stats, but it was Mayer who took the lead as the rounds passed by virtue of her activity.

Barring the comparisons to CompuBox’s stats, the match saw Mayer land herself in dominant positions most of the fight. Taking into account that Mayer was fighting at welterweight for the first time of her career, the fight saw the American push Jonas onto the ropes several times with everything to suggest that with 3-minute rounds, Jonas might have been closer to being stopped rather than actually winning.

It should also be noted that Jonas had prior experience fighting at the same weight class and higher weight classes and was frequently known as the harder puncher yet she failed to make an impact in that regard when it came to Mayer, especially as it pertained to her body work which did not appear to slow Mayer down throughout the match.

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 20: Natasha Jonas punches Mikaela Mayer during the IBF World Welterweight Title fight between Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer at M&S Bank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Mostly, Jonas’ position in always being on the defense as opposed to pressuring Mayer as she usually did, reflected a solid performance from Mayer, despite her having neglected several golden opportunities to land herself with a bigger chance to take the win in a more dominant fashion.

Jonas’ frequent holding and clinching were other aspects that clearly weren’t taken into account by the judges, and her actions seemed spurred by Mayer’s own ability to put Jonas into uncomfortable and detrimental positions which forced Jonas to react in that manner.

Ultimately, Jonas was announced the winner by split-decision, defending her IBF welterweight title in the process through the judges’ controversial scores, and as there was no rematch clause in place for Mayer (despite that having been an option for Jonas herself), there may not be a repeat to this match which may have sparked a genuine rivalry between the former American and British Olympians.

Questions will arise of Mayer’s management and promotion (Top Rank) with her having also suffered a loss prior outside of her home country of the United States; making it two losses that came by controversial results while she was fighting as the away fighter.

Regardless of the controversy, both women were competitive and their match provided an entertaining spectacle that again did the women’s division credit and showed the benefits of the best fighting the best in the sport.

The rest of the Boxxer-promoted card featured further fights, particularly the rematch between British super middleweights Zak Chelli (15-2-1, 7 KO’s) and Jack Cullen (22-5-1, 10 KO’s) was held on the undercard roughly 3-4 years following their 2020 bout which ended in a split-decision draw. This time around, Chelli grabbed a convincing victory by winning most of the rounds, earning him a win by unanimous decision.

Judges Rob Mikaela Mayer Of Deserved Win As Natasha Jonas Defends IBF Title Successfully image 3
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 20: Zak Chelli and Jack Cullen exchange punches during the British and Commonwealth Super Middleweight Title fight between Jack Cullen and Zak Chelli at M&S Bank Arena on January 20, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Cruiserweight Jack Massey (21-2, 12 KO’s) also made his return following his UD loss to Joseph Parker (34-3, 23 KO’s) last year in January, and Massey went on to record a first-round stoppage win in the process.

Boxxer was the promoter of the card, working alongside UK-based broadcaster Sky Sports for the event, but questions will be raised towards the result of the main event between Jonas ad Mayer. Jonas, a Boxxer fighter herself, seemed to have gotten away with a very fortuitous win during the match, and even seemed to imply that Mayer was the deserved winner in her post-match interview.

Mikaela Mayer is going to be absolutely devastated with that result because I’ve been there and it feels like the world is over,Jonas stated following her split-decision victory over the American former Olympian.

She’s in my top two of people I’ve fought. She’s a very skilled operator, her time will come again. She beats a lot of the champions that are already here so please use that as motivation to go on and get the title that you deserve and become a two-weight champion.

Jonas’ statement surrounding Mayer facing the brunt of what may be considered to be an unfair result might refer to when Jonas battled against fellow Brit Terri Harper (14-1-2, 6 KO’s) during a title match that ultimately ended in a split-decision draw. The overall consensus then was that Jonas had done enough to win the fight, similar to how Mayer should have probably gotten the victory.

Regardless of her loss, Mayer may not have suffered an irreparable blow to her own career and there are still plenty of opportunities left for her; whether below the 147 lbs division or above it. Currently, unified welterweight champion Jessica McCaskill (12-3-1, 5 KO’s) and WBO champion Sandy Ryan (6-1-1, 2 KO’s) are the two other champions in the division aside from Jonas.

While both fighters may be subject to fighting mandatories, Mayer does have two distinctive paths to traverse through which she might become a two-division champion. As Jonas had stated, with Mayer’s ability there’s an opportunity for her to win a world title soon, whichever division she chooses to fight in.

The prospects of a rematch between Jonas and Mayer might be off the cards following Jonas’ announcement that she would likely retire this year and the revelation that there wasn’t a rematch clause for Mayer, but there may be an opportunity for Mayer to get her wish if she chooses to petition the IBF.

However, the IBF’s inconsistency of the previous year does not guarantee they will rule in her favor, or even make a ruling to order a rematch; therefore leaving the chance of a replay between the two solely in the hands of Jonas.