Katie Taylor retained her WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO lightweight titles after a wafer-thin points victory over Natasha Jonas in a thriller at the Manchester Arena.
Nearly nine years on from their memorable quarter-final showdown at London 2012, which Taylor won en route to Olympic gold, the Irish fighter prevailed again in an equally absorbing 10-round affair.
Ultimately the unbeaten Taylor’s superior speed and accurate combination punching won the day, with one of the judges scoring the contest 96-94, while the other two gave her the nod 96-95.
Jonas (9-2-1, 7KOs) was therefore denied in her second successive tilt at a world title and she will probably take little consolation from being involved in another fight that showcased women’s boxing at its finest.
There were plenty of observers who thought this showdown deserved to top the bill ahead of the heavyweight bout between Derek Chisora and Joseph Parker and some bruising toe-toe-toe rounds after halfway would have done little to dampen that notion.
Taylor told Matchroom: “I feel sorry for the main event coming out after that fight. It was a thrilling fight.
“It was probably a bit too exciting for my liking. It was definitely a toe-to-toe battle.
“Tonight was a brilliant showcase for women’s boxing and boxing overall.”
The pair’s contest at the London Games generated a record 113.7 decibels of noise at the Excel Arena so their latest meeting being held behind closed doors was quite the contrast.
She was denied by the judges in a controversial draw against WBC super-featherweight champion Terri Harper and with a rematch failing to materialise, Jonas accepted the challenge to move up in weight and take on Taylor.
The pair seem to have been on a collision course since Jonas reversed her retirement decision and turned professional in 2017 and after a cagey first couple of rounds, the fight caught fire.
Some good body work from Jonas was followed by a powerful counter which momentarily seemed to sting Taylor, who had probably shaded the first couple of rounds.
Taylor’s exemplary footwork saw her get in and out of range, with Jonas seemingly hesitant to commit as she waited for a mistake from her opponent. But the Liverpudlian upped her intensity after halfway.
Rounds six, seven and eight showed both fighters not taking a backwards step. Jonas’ legs seemed to stiffen from a right hook and she clung on to her opponent for the next few moments.
Taylor – in her 12th world title contest, while her opponent was having her 12th professional fight – had to use all of her experience in the final round as she ultimately improved her record to 18 wins from as many bouts.
Elsewhere on the undercard, Chris Eubank Jr shook off the ring rust with a routine points victory in a 10-round affair against Marcus Morrison.
Having been out of the ring since December 2019, Eubank Jr seemed content to bank the rounds in his first fight under new trainer and former four-weight world champion Roy Jones Jr.
Eubank Jr is hoping to land a world middleweight title shot later this year and improved his record to 30 wins in 32 fights after all three judges scored the fight 98-92.
Morrison, whose nose was bloodied by a flurry of blows halfway through the 162lb catchweight fight – two pounds above the middleweight limit – slipped to his fourth defeat in 27 professional contests.