Hannah Rankin: "You can expect an absolute firefight"

Yet another stellar woman’s World title fight graces our screens on Saturday night, as Hannah Rankin and Savannah Marshall face off for the WBO World middleweight title. Rankin tells fans to “expect an absolute firefight”, in Saturday’s World title showdown.

In the past few years, woman’s boxing has gone from strength to strength, and this is another example of the progression in the sport. Fights between the likes of Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon, as well as Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas, have provided some of the fights of the year, and who’s to say this fight won’t give fans the same entertainment as the rest?

Hannah Rankin last fought in February of this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic bared its teeth around the world, and is overjoyed to finally get back in the ring and fight on Saturday night.

“I’m absolutely buzzing. I’m so excited. It’s great to have a fight date in the diary, I’m fighting for a World title and it’s going to be live on Sky. I’m really blessed to be one of those fighters who are lucky enough to have got a fight. So yes, I’m ecstatic.”

In the opposite corner is Savannah Marshall. Although this is her first fight for a World title, she is favourite with the bookmakers to win the contest. However, Rankin does not feel like she is a big underdog going into the fight, and believes she is more than capable of winning.

“I don’t really feel like the underdog going into the fight, to be honest. I’m coming from a place of much greater professional experience, so I feel like this is a great 50/50 fight for the fans and I think it’s going to be a really exciting one for everyone to watch.

“I think I’m going in with the advantage that I’ve fought for a world title before, fought at championship level many more times than her, and have been world champion before. I know what’s expected of me, I know what pressure there is, there are no surprises for me in the lead up to this fight.”

Rankin celebrating after becoming IBO World champion (Photo credit: BBC)

This is the fifth time the Scot will be fighting for a world title, so Rankin is no stranger to the pressures of world championship fights. Having already won world honours back in June last year, when she defeated Sarah French for the IBO super-welterweight title, the 30-year-old is confident she can get the job done again this weekend.

“Obviously this stands me in good stead. Having fought for a few world titles before and fighting for the IBO title at home in Scotland, you know what it’s like to be coming out to a big occasion. Having fought Claressa Shields in America, on a Matchroom USA card, I know how it’s going to run, there are no surprises there.

“Due to COVID, the lead up to the fight is going to be different, all having to keep our distance, getting tested beforehand and going into this bubble scenario, so that’s the only difference. So for me, having done the whole championship preparations before, I know mentally and physically how I feel. I feel good.”

Having campaigned for most of her career at super-welterweight, the professional musician believes she can adapt to carrying the extra weight up at 160lbs. Rankin has known about the fight since before the UK went into lockdown, so has had plenty of time to fully grow into a middleweight.

“I’ve had loads of time to really feel like I belong at middleweight and in the weight category. I’m feeling fantastic, so I’m really looking forward to getting in there. This time I feel like I have filled out and have actually made the weight properly, and have filled out to be a full middleweight.”

The last time the Scottish sensation fought at middleweight was back in 2018 against Claressa Shields. However, having been outpointed by Shields in that fight, Rankin believes she is far more prepared and comfortable at the weight this time around.

“I think that when I fought Claressa (Shields), I wasn’t fully there at the weight, but for this one I feel very strong and ready to go. I really do feel like a middleweight now and fully believe I will beat Savannah.”

(Photo credit: The Sunday Post)

It has become the norm now that fights in the UK are happening behind closed doors, and Saturday night is no different. Eddie Hearn is bringing this show to the East of England Arena in Peterborough, in which Lewis Ritson tops the bill against Miguel Vazquez.