Saturday evening at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool sees BOXXER promote their first show of 2024, and in the bill-topper, Natasha Jonas aims to defend her IBF welterweight title for the first time against seasoned American, Mikaela Mayer.
Sky Sports televise Jonas vs Mayer live in the UK, whilst ESPN+ will broadcast the card in the USA.
Jonas (14-2-1, 9 KOs) is having an Indian summer to her career at the age of 39. ‘Miss GB’ suffered an early setback in a stoppage defeat to Viviane Obenauf in 2018, and saw her first world title bid dashed in a split draw with Terri Harper in August 2020.
In her next contest, she moved up to lightweight, and very nearly snatched the undisputed title from Katie Taylor, but the Irish great won by just a point on two cards, and by two points on a third in May 2021.
It looked as though the Liverpudlian may have missed the world title boat, but after joining forces with BOXXER, she finally realised her dream with a second round stoppage of Chris Namus to take the vacant WBO title at super welterweight.
Jonas then added the WBC strap with a wide win on the cards against Patricia Berghult, and the IBF crown followed in November 2022 with a clear points win against Marie Eve Dicaire.
The southpaw was last out in July, dropping down in weight and winning the vacant belt she defends this weekend by stopping Kandi Wyatt in eight rounds.
Much was expected of Colorado Springs native Mayer (19-1, 5 KOs), after she turned over following the 2016 Olympics, and she made serene progress, winning the vacant WBO super featherweight title in October 2020, and then adding the IBF strap in November 2021 in a pulsating points win against Maiva Hamadouche.
🗣️ “𝗧𝗪𝗢 𝗥𝗘𝗔𝗟𝗟𝗬 𝗦𝗞𝗜𝗟𝗟𝗘𝗗 𝗪𝗢𝗠𝗘𝗡” 👊
— Pro Boxing Fans (@ProBoxingFans) January 11, 2024
After defeating Jenifer Han, the 33-year-old went for another two belts in October 2022, but would be upset by WBO and IBO champion, Alycia Baumgardner in London, as her fellow compatriot took a split verdict.
Since then, Mayer has had two bouts, moving up to lightweight to outscore Lucy Wildheart in April, and then to super lightweight to win every session against Silvia Bortot.
Prediction: Jonas has matured into a dominant champion, and keeps improving with each outing. Mayer hasn’t reignited her career since the Baumgardner defeat, and the move in weight may prove too much, and I lean towards a clear win on points for Jonas.
Cullen-Chelli in British and Commonwealth title clash
The British and Commonwealth super middleweight titles are on the line as the champion, Jack Cullen, defends against Zak Chelli.
The pair met in the Matchroom back garden in 2020, where they fought to a draw over ten rounds, and since then, Cullen (22-4-1, 10 KOs) lost inside schedule to Kevin Lele Sadjo for the vacant European title, and was halted by Diego Pacheco in March last year, but rebounded to stun Mark Heffron and relieve him of the two belts in a third round stoppage victory last September.
Chelli (14-2-1, 7 KOs) has also been patchy, winning a BOXXER tournament and the English title before being upset by Mark Jeffers on the cards last July. He returned with a knockout win against Jordan Grannum two months later.
Prediction: These two are evenly matched, as shown in their original meeting. I think Cullen will have enough this time to take a tight points win.
The talented Aaron McKenna (17-0, 8 KOs) also sees action, and the Irishman should defend his WBC International middleweight title with a points win against former British title challenger, Linus Udofia (19-2, 9 KOs).
The aforementioned Mark Jeffers appears here, strangely not getting the shot at the two domestic crowns after beating Zak Chelli, and he defends his English title against Germaine Brown (13-2, 4 KOs), who shipped the title to Chelli in June 2022. Both aren’t noted punchers, so the pick is the contest to go the distance, and Jeffers (16-0, 4 KOs) to retain on the cards.
Karriss Artingstall (5-0, 1 KO) continues her professional journey, and the featherweight should bank another points win over eight against Lila dos Santos Furtado (9-1, 1 KO).
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Former British cruiserweight title challenger, Jack Massey (20-2, 11 KOs) can bounce back from defeat to Joseph Parker last time out with a points win over Steve Eloundou Ntere (8-1, 3 KOs).
Liverpool flyweight prospect, Mikie Talon (3-0) fights for the fourth time as a professional against an opponent to be confirmed.