Harper vs Jonas fight preview, plus undercard

The second show of Matchroom Boxing’s summer season, titled ‘Matchroom Fight Camp’, features five fights, headlined by WBC and IBO World super featherweight champion Terri Harper in her first unified world title defence to Natasha Jonas.

The pair will do battle live on Sky Sports from the Matchroom headquarters in Essex.

BBN previewed the entire five-fight card:


Terri Harper vs Tasha Jonas

Terri Harper (10-0, 5KOs) is the golden girl of British boxing at the moment, which is great to see, especially coming from such a humble background. Her unlikely and rapid rise to the top of the world is inspiring.

The Denaby super featherweight, trained and managed by Stefy Bull, can fight on the outside and the inside, isn’t scared of getting involved in a scrap, keeps her shape well, has good energy and footwork, and is determined and hungry.

Her challenger Natasha Jonas (9-1, 7KOs), 36 from Liverpool, was also a golden girl of boxing – in the amateurs. She was a five-time national amateur champion at 64kg, an EU Championships gold medallist, World Championships bronze medallist, and a London 2012 Olympian, where she lost to Katie Taylor on her way to the gold medal at 60kg.

Trained by Joe Gallagher, Tasha slipped up in her 2018 clash with Brazilian Viviane Obenauf (12-4) in 2018. The visiting fighter came into the fight with merciless intent and scored three knockdowns in four rounds before the contest was waved off.

Stylish southpaw, Jonas, was visibly the more skilled boxer of the pair, but the Swiss-based Brazilian crudely ploughed forward with multiple straight shots until she got the effect she desired.

Both Harper and Jonas are schooled and skilled, and this contest should be a great advert for female boxing. Harper’s momentum and big-fight experience of late should give her the advantage in this unified world title clash. Jonas has performed on the highest stage in the amateurs, but not yet in the pros.

The champion will be expected, by most, to win this 10-round championship clash on points.


Chris Billam-Smith vs Nathan Thorley

Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith (10-1, 9KOs) defends his Commonwealth cruiserweight title to unbeaten challenger Nathan Thorley (14-0, 6KOs).

Representing Poole ABC, Billam-Smith was a two-time ABA finalist. Now trained by Shane McGuigan, the 29-year-old had an eventful 2019, suffering his first pro career defeat in a shootout with now-British champion Richard Riakporhe (9-0), then coming back confidently four months on in November to end the year as Commonwealth cruiserweight champion.

Visibly larger than Liverpool’s Craig Glover (10-2), ‘CBS’ was landing heavy right hands from the opening bell causing a cut to open up on his opponent’s left eye instantly, but possibly caused by a clash of heads. He found a home for his right hand in that fight and the left hook to cause the first fifth round knockdown was a great shot. He finished that fight in clinical fashion.

Billam-Smith, 29, has a sound boxing ability due to his decent pedigree, with a ramrod jab, good chin, swift head movement, although he does get caught, and devastating power.

27-years-old from Cardiff, Thorley is a flashy fighter, with sharp shots. His best win to date is when he stopped Jermain Asare (8-2) in two rounds in December 2017 to win the vacant Welsh Area light heavyweight title.

Of his 14 fights, he has only squared off against two opponents with a winning record, feeding mostly on European journeymen. This Commonwealth title tilt will be a big step up from what he’s used to, but he does carry a slight height advantage and a confidence and feelng of invincability that comes with being undefeated.

‘The Gentleman’ vs ‘Thunder’ should prove to be a good fight, but the champion’s big-fight experience and superior power should give him the advantage over the Welsh challenger.


Anthony Fowler vs Adam Harper

Almost exactly two years on from becoming English super welterweight Adam Harper (9-1) returns from retirement to tackle ‘The Machine’ Anthony Fowler (12-1, 9KOs).

The Bath-born 32-year-old was forced to hang up his gloves after failing a mandatory brain scan shortly before his 31st birthday in last year. It was when his mother fell ill with a bleed on the brain that he became wary of his own health and realised, when comparing his brain scans from his pro debut in 2014 to 2019, that there was a need to see an expert and underwent cognitive testing, which he passed.

In his last three fights, he defeated unbeaten Ryan Kelly (8-0) to claim the vacant Midlands Area super welterweight belt, then fell short against Australian Michael Zerafa (22-2) in Melbourne for the Commonwealth crown in 2018, then beat Billy Bird (18-1) on a razor-thin mixed decision to claim the English championship, which he never lost in the ring.

He doesn’t possess a particularly good jab, but his work rate, tenacity, persistence, durability and doggedness wins him fights.

Trained by Dave Coldwell, London 2012 Olympian Fowler will inevitably be the favourite to win this bout, but he has shown a vulnerability when he lost to bitter rival Scott Fitzgerald (12-0) in their 2019 clash. A 10th-round knockdown cost the Liverpudlian the decision on the cards, losing out on the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super welterweight title and shot at the British belt.

With an extensive amateur background behind him, racking up a record of 190-19, the 29-year-old hard-hitting Merseysider will have the advantage in experience, height and size in this contest.

Tewkesbury’s Harper has a fairly decent record with a couple of good scalps, but there’s quite a difference in levels in this fight. As an amateur, he won 30 from 41 bouts and claimed two Western Counties titles, so his accomplishments are considerably dwarfed by Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist and World Championships 2013 bronze medallist, Fowler.

As a pro, he has exceeded expectations by becoming English champion. He admitted to being bettered by an out of shape Scott Fitzgerald in sparring, so it’s likely he could be out of his depth with Fowler, who stays in shape all the time.

Fowler will fully be expecting to take his KO count up to double figures against the resilient Harper.


Aqib Fiaz vs Kane Baker

Oldham’s 20-year-old lightweight prospect Aqib Fiaz (5-0) gets his first test as a pro against English title contender Kane Baker (13-6).

The Birmingham boxer, 30, has a very chequered record, once losing five times in a year. He has only had one loss in his previous six contests, which was a close mixed decision defeat to Myron Mills (13-1) for the English lightweight title in November last year. He has fought as recently as February when he won 58-56 on points against Telford journeyman Dean Jones (1-23), and he won the Midlands Area title by a single point against unbeaten Ishmael Ellis (9-0) in December 2018.

He has been stopped twice by Conor Benn (7-0) in 2017 and Darren Surtees (8-0) in 2018, both boxers well known for their ability to stop opponents.

Trained by Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis, Fiaz shares his Manchester-based gym with the likes of Jack Caterall and Carl Frampton.

When boxing out of Northside ABC, Fiaz had over 70 fights in the unpaid code and won nine Area titles and the English National title.

An intelligent university student, this is clever matchmaking for the young prospect. Neither Fiaz nor Baker have any stoppages so far, so you would expect this one to go the distance.


Hopey Price vs TBA

Ivan Hope Price (2-0, 1KO), known as either ‘Hopey’ or ‘Drago’, boxed twice late last year in the first weekend of November with a points win over durable Nicaraguan Joel Sanchez (4-9-1), then again on the first week of December with a third round stoppage over winning fighter Swedi Mohamed (12-6-2).

The 20-year-old featherweight from Leeds won gold at the Olympic Youth Games to add to his two European Championships and septet of National titles.

Now trained by Dave Coldwell, the slick southpaw has settled into the paid ranks seamlessly and will be one to watch.

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