September 18, 2021

Rival trainers argue as historic fight looms

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Harper vs Jonas in a WBC title fight on Friday night, live on Sky Sports

Last Updated: 05/08/20 11:26am

Harper has accused Jonas of being ‘unprofessional’ for showing up late to Fight Camp

Harper has accused Jonas of being ‘unprofessional’ for showing up late to Fight Camp

Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas’ trainers have argued about sparring rumours and mind games as the first all-British women’s world title fight approaches.

Harper defends her WBC super-featherweight championship against Jonas, a former 2012 Olympian, at Fight Camp on Friday night, live on Sky Sports.

The respective trainers in their corners, Stefy Bull with Harper and Joe Gallagher with Jonas, have become embroiled in a row about the champion’s preparation for her first defence.

Gallagher told Sky Sports that he thinks Harper was hurt in a sparring session: “Before big fights there are rumours – this person got sparked, that one got dropped.

“In the gymnasium one of the lads said that he had heard from a good source that Terri has been knocked out, or whatever, knocked down.

“I never entertained it when the lad said it in the gym. I thought: ‘You are winding me up!’

“Whether it was this camp or a camp before, she has been knocked down.”

Gallagher refused to confirm who started the rumour but his opposite number Bull hit back by claiming it began “in Joe’s head”.

Bull told Sky Sports: “Joe has been around the block, he’s one of the best in the business. I think he is playing games. But he’s adamant that he’s heard it!

“It’s exactly the same, the things I’ve heard. One of my fighters messaged me saying: ‘Jonas can only hold it together for four rounds and then she crumbles!'”

Bull also claimed that a fighter told him about the challenger to Harper’s belt: “‘I can’t believe Jonas is boxing for a world title because she’s really slow!'”

Gallagher stood by his version of events: “If I’m asked a question I’ll answer it. How they take it is up to them.

“If there were rumours about Natasha then we would have to deal with it.

“We’re focused on August 7, the first bell, that is all that matters.”

Gallagher then aimed a sly dig: “The girls have done well to get to where they are at in their careers. They are success stories. Stefy has done a good job with Terri. He’s doing a better job doing her social media, looking after her social media accounts!”

Harper talks tattoos, food and music

Harper talks tattoos, food and music

Yorkshire’s Harper is just 23 and has only been professional for three years with a minimal amateur background, but in her 10th fight earlier this year she remained unbeaten by outpointing world champion Eva Wahlstrom to take her WBC belt.

Merseyside’s Jonas is 13 years older and represented Team GB at London 2012 where she was eliminated by the eventual gold medallist Katie Taylor. Jonas has rebounded from a shock 2018 stoppage loss with three wins in a row.

Harper’s trainer Bull has questioned how comfortable Jonas will be at the 130lbs super-featherweight limit. He said: “It’s alright making weight – you’ve got to fight at it.

“Can Jonas make the weight? Yes. Can she fight at it? She’s shown that she can’t. She struggled, last time.”

Gallagher shot back: “We’re the underdog and there’s no pressure on us. Terri is the young champion, she’s 23. If you listen to [Sky Sports pundit] Matthew Macklin she is the Second Coming!

“I fancy Jonas late, by knockout. Tasha’s power? They don’t realise how hard Tasha hits. Once she hits they will be in la-la land. I fancy round eight, nine or 10.”

Bull concluded: “Terri is a very special talent. This fight is a test – how good is Terri?”

Harper had criticised Jonas on Tuesday for arriving late to Fight Camp and missing her specific entry time to comply with COVID-19 regulations.

“No risk of bumping into her,” she said sarcastically.

“I think it’s unprofessional, personally. I don’t know the reason behind it.

“Hopefully it’s a good one.

“But I think it’s unprofessional.

“For me, she can do what she wants. But on [behalf of Matchroom and Sky Sports], the work that you have put in, making sure everything sticks to the schedule.

“It’s thrown a spanner in the works. It’s unprofessional.”