Terri Harper warns she is not the finished article ahead of world title defence

Terri Harper faces faces Norway's Katharina Thanderz on Saturday (Richard Sellers/PA).
Terri Harper faces faces Norway's Katharina Thanderz on Saturday (Richard Sellers/PA). (PA Archive)
18:06pm, Wed 11 Nov 2020
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World champion Terri Harper has stressed she is “nowhere near the finished article” and spoken of the lessons learned from August’s clash with fellow Briton Natasha Jonas, who she hopes to fight again early next year.

Harper, victorious in each of her previous 10 bouts as a professional, battled out a draw with Jonas as she made a first defence of her WBC super-featherweight title, with some high-profile observers feeling her opponent deserved to win.

The 24-year-old Yorkshirewoman, who faces Norway’s Katharina Thanderz on Saturday at Wembley’s SSE Arena, said of the Jonas contest: “That was my 11th professional fight. I’m nowhere near the finished article, I’ve still got a lot of learning to do. You can’t buy experience.

“It was a tough fight and a big learning fight for me. But these are the fights you need to have to take you to that next level.

“It kind of brought us back down to reality. It made us look at what we need to work on.

“I kicked myself for days after, but when I actually watch it back, there were things I was doing wrong but things I was doing well as well. I just have to remember Rome was not built on a day. I’m not perfect, I’m going to make these mistakes.

“The big one was allowing myself to get dragged into a dog fight. I’m a long-range boxer, and everything just kind of went out of the window. This fight I want to get back to using my jab, keeping them long, at my range.

Terri Harper held onto the WBC and IBO super-featherweight belts after the draw with Natasha Jonas (PA Archive)

“Tasha took me to deep waters. In the eighth round I got buzzed. It’s the first time I’ve been buzzed in a fight and I had to learn how to survive. I’ve been taken to those deep waters now and I know I can do the rounds.”

When asked if the Jonas fight had been a wake-up call, Harper – who has employed a new strength and fitness coach having previously been “winging it” on that front – said: “Yeah, you could say that.”

Regarding a rematch, she said: “I’ve been ordered to fight my mandatory, and I’m hoping a Natasha rematch can come early next year.”

Saturday’s clash with Thanderz (13-0, 2 KOs) is among a triple-header of women’s world title bouts on the same bill, headlined by Ireland’s undisputed world lightweight champion Katie Taylor facing Spaniard Miriam Gutierrez.

Katie Taylor headlines a triple-header of women's world title bouts (PA Archive)

West Midlands fighter Rachel Ball takes on Jorgelina Guanini for the WBA bantamweight belt. All three fights will be available to watch for free on streaming platforms.

Asked how she felt about potentially being watched by more people this time after the attention there was on the Jonas fight, Harper – also IBO super-featherweight champion – said with a smile: “I haven’t really thought about it. I know there’s a lot more people out there probably wanting to see me fail, so I’ll probably want to prove all them wrong.

“I can remember seeing someone online saying I can’t even box. I’m not doing bad for someone who can’t box! It’s just proving everyone wrong – and I think I’ve got something to prove to myself as well.”

Harper says it is “crazy to think I’m on the undercard of Katie, my idol”, and added: “A dream of mine would be possibly one day to share a ring with Katie. I just want to be able to share a ring with the greatest.”

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