Mikaela Mayer pushes for three-minute rounds in Natasha Jonas clash

Mikaela Mayer made a point of pushing for three-minute rounds in her upcoming bout with Natasha Jonas, as the pair spoke at a pre-fight press conference on Wednesday.

Jonas returns to her hometown of Liverpool to defend the IBF welterweight belt against Mayer in January, with the contest scheduled for 10 two-minute rounds, as is customary in women’s title fights. However, Amanda Serrano and Danila Ramos broke away from that rule in October, as the former retained her undisputed featherweight titles over the course of 12 three-minute rounds.

And Serrano’s fellow American Mayer is keen to follow suit, when she challenges Jonas on 20 January. With Mayer, 33, continuing her gradual ascension through the weight classes, the expectation is that the naturally-bigger Jonas, 39, will have a power advantage at the M&S Bank Arena. While Mayer believes she can undermine that narrative, she suggested that longer rounds would aid her pursuit of a knockout.

“[A finish is about] punch placement and just relaxing and trusting the process. I have the technique,” said the former unified super-featherweight champion and ex-interim lightweight champion. “One of the things I’ve been working on is seeing things and picking shots better. It’s one of the reasons I wanted three-minute rounds for this fight; I wanted more time to play out that strategy.

“I’m almost outgrowing the 10 two-minute rounds, but it takes two to agree to that, and it seems Natasha didn’t want to agree to that.”

Jonas was quick to reply, “I actually didn’t know – I’ve never said no, it was never put on the table,” to which Mayer responded: “I was hoping you’d say that, because there’s still a ton of time [until the fight]...

“This is the generation of women that can make that transition. If we don’t do it, we can’t expect any change.”

Mayer in her most recent fight, a decision win over Silvia Bortot (PA)
Mayer in her most recent fight, a decision win over Silvia Bortot (PA)

Returning to the topic of power, Mayer said: “I wouldn’t look past me, because I’ve been doing everything I can this past year. I’ve slowly moved up. It’s not just about gaining weight, it’s about gaining proper weight. I’m still gonna be bigger than most, I still tower over Natasha, but I’ve been making sure I take that power in there, too. That’s the last piece of the puzzle. You’re not gonna bully me; I’ll bully you right back.”

And while three-minute rounds were not negotiated, the location was, with Mayer happy to venture to the backyard of Jonas – a former Olympian and unified super-welterweight champion.

“It was pretty easy to make [the fight], because we both wanted it,” Mayer said. “Even when George [Ruiz, manager] came back to me with the topics of negotiation, ‘They want to have it in Liverpool,’ I was just like: ‘Yeah, yeah, make the fight.’

“I already figured it’d be in the UK, because she’s the champion. It kind of excites me, I think it’ll challenge me, and I’ll rise to the occasion. I think it’ll be fun. And everything Natasha’s accomplished, she deserves a fight in her hometown.”

Jonas, who last fought in Liverpool in September 2022, said: “There's no place like home. She's gonna come into the lion's den, and I respect her for that.

Jonas collected three world titles at super-welterweight before moving down a division (Action Images via Reuters)
Jonas collected three world titles at super-welterweight before moving down a division (Action Images via Reuters)

“We’ve got a lot of Irish blood in Liverpool, so it won’t be dissimilar to the weekend,” she added, referring to Irish icon Katie Taylor’s win over Chantelle Cameron in Dublin.

“A win over Mikaela Mayer, she’d be the best name on my record so far. I respect everything she brings. She’s got a lot [of strengths]. I was part of the commentary team for her fight against [Alycia] Baumgardner, and I thought she won. She’s got a good jab, good IQ, good footwork. I just think everything she can do, I do better.”

Mayer suffered the sole loss of her professional career in October 2022, when she was beaten by compatriot Baumgardner via split decision. Baumgardner has since fought and won twice, before failing a drug test in July. The 29-year-old maintained her innocence, however, claiming that she would never use an ‘illegal’ substance.

Jonas continued: “I train for 10 hard rounds. If I get them out early, that’s just a bonus. I know I’ve got punch power, but I don’t rely on that. I do [believe I have better boxing fundamentals].”

“She should think that,” Mayer replied. “We all think that – that's why we're here. I hope she feels that way, I obviously feel that way.”