Natasha Jonas was pushed to the limit but retained her IBF welterweight crown with a razor-thin split decision victory over American rival Mikaela Mayer in a thriller in Liverpool.

Jonas started strongly in the first defence of the world title she won by defeating Kandi Wyatt last July but Mayer steadily grew into the bout and was the busier of the two in several riveting exchanges.

It was an all-action affair but, despite being left with a cut below her left eye, Jonas, who raised her arm aloft at the final bell, was given the nod 96-94 and 96-95 as a third judge sided with Mayer 97-93.

The result divided opinion on social media but, after Jonas extended her record to 15 wins and two defeats with one draw in her home city, she indicated 2024 will be her final year in the sport.

The 39-year-old has won six fights in a row since losing on points to long-time rival Katie Taylor in May 2021, becoming a unified world light-middleweight champion before stepping down to reign at 147lbs.

She told Sky Sports: “Unfortunately I can’t be around forever, this is probably my last year in boxing and we want to make it the best chapter of the book.”

A rematch against an opponent six years her junior, a former unified world super-featherweight champion who was fighting at welterweight for the first time on Saturday night, would surely be welcomed.

Jonas said: “She’s in the top two people I’ve fought, she’s a very, very skilled operator and her time will come again. She beats a lot of the champions that are already here.

“That little bit of fear factor brings out the best in me, I need opponents like her to tango. With no disrespect to the likes of Kandi Wyatt, I knew I would dominate and I was supposed to win.”

Mayer, who slipped to her second defeat in 21 fights, wants a chance at gaining revenge over Jonas.

She said: “I thought I did enough to win. I would have given her the first round or two but after that, I feel like I out-punched her and landed the cleaner shots. I think that fight is worth seeing again.

“I just hope Natasha will be the stand-up champ that she is and give me another shot at the belt – I feel like I deserve it.”

Joseph Parker is certain Tyson Fury will improve on his underwhelming performance against Francis Ngannou when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk in their huge unification bout in February.

Following months of discussions between the fighters' representatives, WBC heavyweight champion Fury will finally take on Usyk – who holds the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and the Ring belts – in Riyadh on February 17.

Fury's plans to face the Ukrainian were almost dealt a surprising blow in October, when he was fortunate to score an unconvincing split-decision win over former UFC Heavyweight Champion and boxing debutant Francis Ngannou.

While many believe Fury's sloppy performance against Ngannou spells bad news for his meeting with Usyk, Parker is certain he will bounce back.

Asked whether he was confident in Fury's chances of victory, Parker told Stats Perform: "Very confident. I'm very confident that Tyson will take care of business.

"Francis Ngannou is a champion himself, the UFC Heavyweight Champion of the world and he put on probably the best camp of his life and a good performance against Tyson. 

"Tyson wasn't the best, he didn't put on the best performance and best display that he could have, but he got the win which is the main thing. 

"Now he's locked in this fight with Usyk on February 17. I think locking in that big fight with Usyk has been a big change for him, and hopefully he has the best camp and puts on the performance that we know he can."

Parker managed a stunning win over Deontay Wilder on Saturday, with the duo fighting on the same card as Anthony Joshua, who stopped Otto Wallin in the fifth round.

Wallin is also backing Fury to step things up for his next fight, suggesting Ngannou's performance simply caught the Gypsy King off guard.

"I didn't think that Ngannou was going to stand any chance, but he did a really good job," Wallin told Stats Perform.

"He lasted 10 rounds, which is really amazing with the limited amount of boxing experience that he has, he did a really good job.

"At the same time, I don't think Fury looked the same in that fight. He didn't look like he was really prepared. He looked off and Ngannou is a strong guy. 

"It's probably awkward coming from MMA, it's not easy to fight those guys. But I think when Fury is going to fight Usyk, he's probably going to step it up.

"Fury really has to be on his A-game. If he is, I think that he's going to win the fight."

Carl Froch knocked out George Groves in their rematch at Wembley Stadium on this day in 2014 as the Nottingham fighter retained his WBA and IBF super-middleweight titles.

Froch added to his victory in the initial bout in Manchester the previous November, in which he had recovered from a first-round knockdown and terrible start to stop Groves controversially in the ninth.

This time he finished the contest with a breathtaking eighth-round punch which knocked Groves out in front of a crowd of 80,000.

Froch said afterwards: “I showed tonight why I’m a four-time champion of the world, why I’ve defended my world title 13 times on the spin.

“I am amongst the best fighters in the world – that’s who George Groves was in there with tonight.

“The finish of that (fight) showed why I’ve mixed with the elite for many years and how hard it is to get to that level.”

He added: “I am feeling unbelievably elated. This is the best moment in the history of my boxing career.”

Groves made a solid start to the contest which began cagily, with neither fighter wanting to give anything away. Froch was patient, waiting for his opening and Groves struggled to keep pace as the fight wore on.

“I knew it was only going to take a couple of big right hands to the chin and I timed it perfectly,” Froch said.

Groves said: “It’s boxing and fair play to Carl, he caught me and I went down. Obviously I felt I was doing very well in the fight, I was in my groove and I was boxing well but it’s boxing.

“I’ll come back bigger, better and stronger. Ultimately I feel like I let myself down but congratulations to Carl, fair play, he got the punch.”

It proved the last fight for Froch – aged 36 at the time – before retirement, with him hanging up his gloves with a professional record of 35 bouts, 33 wins and two defeats, 24 of the victories coming by knockout.

Anthony Joshua will retire from boxing if he loses to Jermaine Franklin on Saturday.

Former WBO world champion Johnny Nelson had suggested Joshua should call time on his career if he loses for the fourth time, having already been defeated by Andy Ruiz Jr. and Oleksandr Usyk (twice).

And the 33-year-old confirmed he does intend to hang up his gloves if he is beaten by his American opponent at the O2 Arena in London.

"I will. I will retire if I lose. I'm not here to battle people. If people want me to retire I will retire," Joshua said to MailOnline.

"I'm not going to fight if people don't want me too. It's not even about the money. It's about the competitor in you. That's what's important."

Joshua said he would like to face Tyson Fury if the Gypsy King is unable to revive negotiations on a unification fight with Usyk, but also sounded as if he is looking forward to retirement and getting away from the pressure of elite boxing.

"It [pressure] comes with the business and it comes with the territory, I know that," he said. "I know when I am retired, I am gonna be chilling. I'm gonna be thinking f*** everyone. I am done.

"You lot put so much pressure on me so when I am done, the chains are going to be gone. I am going to be laughing and loving life."

Anthony Joshua should call time on his boxing career if he loses to Jermaine Franklin next weekend, according to former WBO cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson.

Two-time heavyweight champion Joshua has fallen down the pecking order for another shot at the belt after losing back-to-back fights to Oleksandr Usyk.

The 33-year-old has tasted defeat in three of his past five bouts, with Andy Ruiz Jr sensationally ending his opponent's unbeaten streak of 22 fights in June 2019.

Joshua returns to action on home soil at London's 02 Arena on Saturday in what will be his first fight since 2015 that has not been contested with a world title on the line.

And Nelson believes Joshua's career will effectively be over if he loses to Franklin, whose run of 21 wins in a row was ended by Dillian Whyte in November/

"If Anthony Joshua loses, he jacks it in," Nelson wrote in his column for Sky Sports. "If he doesn't jack it, he should jack it. Because it's a hard mountain to climb. 

"Especially when you've had the success and the heights that he's had. So he can't afford to lose. That's a must. Then from that, it's confidence building.

"We'll see if he really thinks 'you know what, I can eventually become world champion again, I'll fix what I got wrong'. He's only been boxing 10, 11 years as a professional fighter."

A showdown between Joshua and Tyson Fury twice fell through, but there has been renewed talk over the past week of the two men facing off later this year.

However, given the similar nature of Fury's proposed bout with Usyk also collapsing, Nelson is no longer interested in discussing that all-British clash.

"Personally, I fell in love with the idea at first but it was teased so much and it never happened," he said. "So I don't even don't want to talk about it."

Anthony Joshua has set his sights on becoming a three-time world heavyweight champion "within the next 16 months" as he prepares to face Jermaine Franklin.

The 33-year-old is not currently in the title picture after losing back-to-back fights to Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021 and August 2022.

Joshua has tasted defeat in three of his past five bouts, with Andy Ruiz Jr sensationally ending his opponent's unbeaten streak of 22 fights.

But the Briton believes he is on the road back to the top, with a huge showdown against Tyson Fury again being touted should he overcome Franklin at the O2 Arena on Saturday.

"I do and I did want respect from people in the industry that I admire, ex-legends in the game and when you're not a champion any more you feel like that goes away," he said.

"That was definitely something I was yearning for – the respect from ex-champions. When I'd lost it, it was like 'f***, I've lost that invincibility', but it's all good.

“We move forward. I'm not really doing it for that purpose any more because I'm not in that position, but the desire? 

"One is definitely to become champion, which I think is possible within the next 16 months.

"I think we've got to see what happens this year with the belts. Let them be competed for and then potentially let them go up in the air and then we'll see where the belts land. 

"Then it's about just staying consistent, staying focused on improving for these next 12 to 16 months while I'm in title contention."

Next weekend's fight will be Joshua's first since 2015 that has not been contested with a world title on the line.

"There is definitely not as much nerves," he said. "That kind of pressure, that pressure cooker is off a bit. The pressure was a lot, I can't lie to you.

"But when you want something so bad, I was really pushing that undisputed narrative for so long, that road to undisputed hashtag with all of the brands we work with. 

"We pushed it, but now we're at a new stage. We can't look back. We're only looking forward and I see a bright future and that kind of keeps me in good spirits."

Tyson Fury has accused Oleksandr Usyk of being a "coward" and "running" away after a proposed heavyweight unification title fight collapsed.

WBC champion Fury and WBA, WBO and IBF world champion Usyk were due to step into the ring at Wembley on April 29.

A deal could not be agreed, though, with both parties unable to come to an agreement over terms for a purse split in the rematch clause.

Usyk's promoter Alex Krassyuk pointed the finger at Fury for "putting so many obstacles in front of making the deal."

Mandatory challenger Daniel Dubois is instead seemingly next in line for Usyk, and Fury claims that is bout the Ukrainian wanted rather than facing him.

He said in a social media post on Thursday: "[You] tried all week to get out of it, begging for a rematch like a little girl. You got your rematch, then didn't even wanna fight at that.

"Always know that you was never man enough to tangle with the 'Gypsy King' ever in your life. You little 14-stone coward, and your full team know it as well, and all the lawyers have got the full information.

"Keep running. Fight [Daniel] Dubois at the Copper Box now, and always know that you or anybody else like you would never tangle with the Gypsy King!"

Tyson Fury will have to train "extra hard" if a unification bout against Oleksandr Usyk is set for April 29, his trainer SugarHill Steward admitted.

The two heavyweight champions have been exchanging barbs on social media in the push to secure a fight, which would see the crowning of first unified champion in the heavyweight division since 2000.

While it is widely reported that talks are progressing and terms are agreed, the fight is still yet to be officially announced – despite Fury saying publicly he wants to return to the ring next month.

That would result in a quick turnaround for the 34-year-old, who last fought in April 2022 against Dillian Whyte, but Steward is confident in the abilities of the Gypsy King.

"If that's what they agree on and that's what he wants to do, if he feels he can get ready for April 29 and fight Usyk then he'll just have to train extra hard for that," he told Sky Sports.

"It's a short bit of time, but I believe Tyson has the ability and the physical attributes to handle the situation."

Should the bout go ahead, Fury's plan, as always, will be to go for the knockout, Steward added: "The game plan is always a knockout.

"It's setting it up, using certain punches, certain movements to make your opponent move into that knockout punch.

"Good jabs set up knockouts. Every fight is adjustments and watching what your opponent does and making adjustments.

"It's not just one game plan ever. It's seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13. We're only doing 12 rounds, but you've got an extra one in the bag always."

Joe Joyce is ready to step in and face either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk if the pair cannot settle on the terms of their heavyweight unification bout.

Fury, the WBC title-holder, and Usyk, who possesses the WBO, WBA (Super) and IBF crowns, have been seeking to agree terms for a fight on April 29.

Negotiations have stalled on multiple occasions however, while the pair have sparred verbally throughout, though it appears Fury will now take a 70-30 purse split.

WBO interim heavyweight champion Joyce, who is arguably the strongest mandatory challenger to either man, would be happy to square off if a deal falls through, though he would prefer to face an ultimate winner.

"It's [been] kind of dragging on a bit," he told Sky Sports' Toe2Toe podcast. "Fury's got 70 per cent [so] I guess it's happening now.

"He's started camp, [and] I would imagine Usyk's already in camp. Maybe he knows something we don't. Possibly, [I could fight one of them]. I guess it's a good back-up plan."

Reiterating he would prefer to wait though, the Briton added: "That would be something, wouldn't it? There's been a lot of rematch clauses of late. They drag on, don't they?

"It's quite refreshing to hear that there isn't one for this fight. I can jump in afterwards [and] fight the winner. I'm confident in my abilities and I think it would be a great fight against either of them."

On a preferred opponent, Joyce admitted an all-British clash thrilled him, adding: "I really like the sound of the Fury fight. Can you imagine? Undisputed has a nice ring to it."

Tyson Fury is "scared" to face Oleksandr Usyk after challenging the Ukrainian to "up the ante", promoter Alexander Krassyuk has claimed.

A late turnaround in the past week saw talks reignite between the two heavyweight champions, sparking fresh hope for a fiercely anticipated unification bout.

Usyk took to social media to accept a 70-30 purse split in favour of Fury, with the WBA stating on Friday it had been informed of an agreement.

Wembley is expected to be the venue for the bout, with April 29 a proposed date, and Fury has now urged his rival to make the fight a one-off event.

Posting a video on social media, he said: "I've been speaking to the lawyers, and Usyk's people have been talking about rematch clauses and all that.

"Here's one to up the ante – how about there is no rematch clause for both of us? Let's up the ante completely.

"Never worry about what's in the future or how many more dollars you can get after you've been defeated. Worry about the fight.

"No rematch clause. Winner takes the glory, the loser goes home. How about that? Agree to that."

However, Usyk's promoter Krassyuk accused Fury of being "scared" with his latest demand and suggested the 'Gypsy King' is looking for a way to pull out of a fight.

"As Usyk said, the greedy belly is still hoping to find a way to pull out. We knew before and know it now," he told talkSPORT. "As soon as Usyk accepts a no-rematch clause, there will still be searching for another thing to find and pull out the fight.

"I tell you why. He bluffed and Usyk called his bluff. This is 100 per cent. He didn't expect Usyk to accept [a 70-30 split].

"He was not in a training camp, and we saw the next morning the theatrical performance that he was pretending to jog and fight someone in the ring.

"It's all about nothing. He's not prepared and scared to fight. He will try to find a way to avoid Usyk for as long as possible.

"We don't trust him, we don't believe him. One more thing to know, when we started the negotiations, Fury's side was the first to ask for the rematch. Fury were the first to ask for the rematch, and we supported this."

Tyson Fury deserves credit for not "ducking" any opponent and agreeing to face off against the best fighters, according to his promoter Frank Warren.

An eleventh-hour agreement is reported to have been reached for a fiercely anticipated unification bout between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

It seemed a deal would not be agreed, with figures from both camps hinting at an imminent collapse in talks last week, before Usyk publicly offered a 70-30 purse split in Fury's favour.

That got the wheels moving again, with the WBA confirming it had been assured of a deal, before Warren confirmed over the weekend the fight was on – and hailed Fury for going toe-to-toe with the best in his era.

"Everyone wants to see the fight. Everybody should take their hat off to Tyson Fury because he's the only heavyweight since going back to those great glory days of Ali, Foreman and Frazier that has fought the best around of the generations he's been in," he told talkSPORT.

"He's fought against [Wladimir] Klitschko, who was the best of his generation, went to his backyard and beat him. The longest reigning heavyweight in Deontay Wilder – went to the states not once but three times and beat him.

"Now he's stepping up to the guy who has had two wins over Joshua and has three belts.

"You have to take your hat off to Tyson, we talk about Lennox Lewis, but he never fought Riddick Bowe, never fought Mike Tyson until he was well past his best. I'd not taking anything away from Lennox, he was a great fighter. Tyson has fought all these guys at their best.

"Once we get it all finalised… it's great. It's the first time four belts have been on the line. It's the biggest heavyweight fight in goodness knows how many years.

"Both are undefeated and both in their prime. It will be a fantastic event and the highest grossing event ever to take place at Wembley, beating the previous one. I'm not talking about boxing but a one-off event. The previous one was last April again with Tyson.

"He's a megastar and I'm delighted for him. People should acknowledge in him, we've got a fighter who doesn't duck anybody."

Katie Taylor will face off against Chantelle Cameron in Dublin on May 20 in a bid to become a two-weight world champion.

Taylor, the undisputed lightweight champion, was due to meet Amanda Serrano in a rematch on the same date, but the Puerto Rican pulled out due to injury.

Instead, Taylor accepted a bout with Cameron after the English fighter challenged her on social media.

Cameron offered to move up in weight and has now got her shot, which will be the first professional fight Taylor has contested in her homeland of Ireland.

"Once Serrano pulled out this was the natural fight to make," the Irish world champion said.

"It's two undefeated, reigning undisputed world champions going up against each other and I believe that's the first time that's ever happened in the modern era of the sport.

"People have been talking about this fight for a long time now, so I'm delighted it's happening and I'm looking forward to becoming a two-weight undisputed champion."

Cameron has been victorious in all 17 of her professional fights, becoming the UK's first undisputed female champion after defeating Jessica McCaskill in November.

Meanwhile, Taylor's record stands at 22-0 with six knockouts, 17 of those bouts coming in title matches.

The 36-year-old made history alongside Serrano in New York in May 2022, with theirs the first female fight to headline at Madison Square Garden as Taylor won on points.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk's teams have told the World Boxing Association (WBA) they have reached an agreement for a heavyweight unification fight.

A proposed mouthwatering battle between WBC champion Fury and WBA-Super, IBF, WBO and IBO strap-holder Usyk has been shrouded in doubt as the two parties were unable to settle on terms.

Alex Krassyuk, Usyk's promoter, revealed Fury had rejected a 60-40 purse split in favour of the winner for a bout at Wembley on April 29.

Usyk then put the ball back in "greedy belly" Fury's court by agreeing to the Briton's demand for a 70-30 split, provided he immediately donates £1million to warn-torn Ukraine as they continued to do their talking over social media rather than around the table.

But the WBA later provided an encouraging update, stating assurances have been made that an agreement was reached ahead of Friday's deadline.

"WBA President Gilberto Mendoza received confirmation from Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury's teams that there is an agreement to make the unification fight," the WBA tweeted. "They request time to work on the contracts to close the deal."

Oleksandr Usyk has told "greedy belly" Tyson Fury he will accept a 70-30 split for a heavyweight unification fight if the WBC champion donates £1million to Ukraine straight after the bout.

An eagerly awaited battle between Fury and Usyk is in doubt as the two parties have been unable to strike a deal.

Usyk's promoter Alex Krassyuk this week revealed that Fury had rejected a 60-40 purse split in favour of the winner for a bout on April 29.

WBA-Super, IBF, WBO and IBO champion Usyk on Friday put the ball firmly in Fury's court by agreeing to take a smaller slice of the cake, provided the Englishman supports war-torn Ukraine.

He stated on social media: "Hey greedy #Belly I accept your offer seventy/thirty split to fight on April 29th at Wembley.

"But you will promise to donate 1 mln pounds to Ukraine immediately after the fight. And for every day of your delay you will pay 1 per cent from your purse to Ukrainian people.
Deal???? @tysonfury"

Should a fight against Fury not materialise, Usyk has a three-man waiting list of mandatory opponents – with WBA mandatory Daniel Dubois at the front due to the nature of the governing bodies' rotation system.

If the Brit was ruled out by the injury he sustained in his last fight, IBF mandatory Filip Hrgovic is next in line, followed by WBO mandatory Joe Joyce.

Oleksandr Usyk is unlikely to face Tyson Fury in a unification bout in his return to the ring, the Ukrainian's promoter Alex Krassyuk admitted.

Negotiations for a clash that would determine the first unified heavyweight champion since 2000 have been ongoing for months but are now on the brink of collapse.

Krassyuk revealed this week that Fury had rejected a 60-40 purse split in favour of the winner, with the WBC champ seeking a much higher fee.

That leaves a proposed April bout between Usyk and Fury looking extremely unlikely, with Krassyuk conceding he does not expect the fight to be scheduled.

"It doesn't look likely that we're going to have a fight on April 29, that's my anticipation," he told iD Boxing.

"I can tell you only from the words that I hear from my negotiation partners – Frank Warren and George Warren – according to their reports, Tyson Fury was asking for too much money.

"Even if Usyk would get zero for the fight, it would still not be sufficient for Tyson to cover his wants. But that's actually the point. Normally when a fighter doesn't want a fight, he asks for something impossible and then it's not happening."

Should a fight against Fury not materialise, Usyk has a three-man waiting list of mandatory opponents – with WBA mandatory Daniel Dubois at the front due to the nature of the governing bodies' rotation system.

If the Brit was ruled out by the injury he sustained in his last fight, IBF mandatory Filip Hrgovic is next in line, followed by WBO mandatory Joe Joyce.

Krassyuk expects a mandatory fight to be Usyk's next bout, with the prospect of a clash against Dubois appealing.

"If a Fury fight doesn't happen, which it's not really likely to happen, I think Usyk will have to fight the mandatory. This [Dubois] is actually the next step for Usyk, we have to comply with it," he added.

"It's not the worst fight for the UK. Dubois is English, Usyk fought a couple of times here so he's probably a bit known in the UK. And this is a fight where an Englishman is fighting for three belts at heavyweight. It's a bit more than just a normal heavyweight fight.

"It's still huge. Dubois went through some hell in his last fight, so probably he's recovered, we expect that he did, but we have to see the medicals. It's something to be disclosed within the next couple of days.

"We're still expecting the official decision from Fury. Once we know from Fury officially that the fight is off, then we start working on the mandatory."

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