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BN Verdict: Smith stops Mwakinyo in a weird one, and Jonas steals the show

Natasha Jonas outboxes Patricia Berghult in Liverpool (Lawrence Lustig)
In Liverpool, Liam Smith didn't get the fight he anticipated against Hassan Mwakinyo, while Natasha Jonas delivered a career-best performance, writes Elliot Worsell

THE middleweight fight between Liam Smith and Hassan Mwakinyo appeared a decent enough one on paper, but there was always a sense Natasha Jonas’ WBC and WBO super-welterweight title fight against Patricia Berghult was the true main event tonight (September 3) in Liverpool.

It would have made sense for that to be the case, too, given Sky Sports are all set to push an all-female card next Saturday (September 10) and Jonas, someone whose profile continues to grow due to both her boxing exploits and her work as a pundit, has become something of a late bloomer.

Now, of course, having watched both fights, the pecking order is clear, abundantly so. For while Smith could do nothing about what was effectively a no-show on the part of Mwakinyo, nor the fact he stopped him with ease in round four of a strange and essentially pointless fight, it was ultimately Jonas who thrilled the crowd with a far more impressive 10-round domination of Berghult.

What looked, going in, a difficult fight for Jonas, stylistically, proved a relatively straightforward one for her, yet she navigated the contest with an awareness of the need to provide action and, also, looked for the finish throughout. It made for a career-best display, with an awkward first round (perhaps the only one she lost) soon forgotten once Jonas found her groove, humbled Berghult with sharp right hooks and body shots, and used her superior strength to bully her around the ring.

Still operating at an unnatural weight, Jonas’ strength was nevertheless crucial here and was seemingly too much for Berghult, who had success at a distance and with straight punches but found herself overwhelmed whenever she allowed Jonas, 12-2-1 (8), to get close. Get close Jonas did, too, and often, particularly having been left frustrated by the events of round one, and it wasn’t long before Jonas had taken control and was both beating up the Berghult body and snapping back her head with overhand lefts.

In response, Berghult, 15-1 (3), tried to move, and clinch, and indeed rallied back strongly in the first half of the eighth, just as Jonas started to get maybe a little complacent. Yet it was in that very same round Jonas, eager not to let her lead slip, came firing back with interest, further denting Berghult’s pride, resistance and confidence, and in the end taking the round on the three judges’ scorecards.

They, for my liking, and also for Jonas’, were a bit wide when delivered at the bout’s conclusion (100-90 twice, and 99-91), but the Liverpool boxer, now the WBC and WBO belt-holder, won’t care one bit. Improving from fight to fight, perhaps her biggest issue going forward is the decision she must make regarding the weight at which her future is to lie. There is, after all, a sense her best days will always be at lightweight or super-lightweight, yet, with two belts now to her name, it’s hard to argue with Jonas’ form as a super-welterweight, and just as hard to deny her a headline slot on any future card in Liverpool.

For now, the position of headliner belongs to Liam Smith, a former WBO super-welterweight belt-holder whose fight this evening against Hassan Mwakinyo, 20-3 (14), couldn’t have been any more disappointing.

A peculiar one from the off, full of plenty of fouls, late punches, and questionable knockdowns, Smith got the job done in the fourth when Mwakinyo dropped to the canvas twice, the second time appearing to quit.

Whatever the reason for it, this “no más”, Smith, 32-3-1 (19), was sadly left with more questions than answers, and so, for that matter, were all of us watching either at home or from ringside.

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