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HANNAH RANKIN “FOCUSED AND READY” AHEAD OF WORLD TITLE FIGHT

History making is just days away for Hannah Rankin. Saturday’s IBO Super Welterweight Title fight in Glasgow- where Hannah headlines on live TV (BBC Scotland) against gritty Sarah “Savage” Curran, comes after huge achievements and steps forward during a busy 2018.

Hannah advocates the motto “teamwork makes the dream work”, and Team Rankin began last year with a first stoppage victory. The team then moved on to taking the WBC Silver Middleweight Title home in June. Competing in a brutal fight up at Super Middleweight in August for the WBA’s World TItle was not enough, the year finished facing P4P GOAT, the demure Claressa Shields, for three world titles in November.

Despite the world title shots falling short, The Lagoon Leisure Centre in Paisley this weekend are the perfect place and perfect time for the Team Southpaw Jab fighter. Finally competing for a world title at her natural weight, in her hometown- it couldn’t be sweeter, all falling in to place. Having grabbed every opportunity which has come her way with both hands, learning everything she could from each, the lady who began in white collar boxing has surely received the best tutelage possible to prepare for this occasion.

A win against Curran would see Rankin become Scotland’s first ever female world champion.

Hannah and her omnipresent, omniscient trainer Noel Callan have a devoted and refreshingly ego-free approach to training. She has been sparring former foes and globe trotting in order to soak up every iota of technique and information. Graciously speaking to me in fight week, Hannah says of the months on the road preparing that,

“Camp has gone really well for this fight. I’ve had top level sparring over in Poland and New York with world champions (Alicia Napoleon and Kali Reis over in New York and Ewa Brodnicka- all current or previous world champions)*. You can’t get better prep than that.

Also I’ve been away from family and friends for the whole of this camp and although that can be hard at times, I feel very focused and ready to go on Saturday night.”

Team to make the dream: Hannah and Noel Callan

Focus will be needed against the tough American Curran, who Hannah acknowledges is,

“Aggressive, a come forward fighter, she’s turning up to win this fight. I’m not underestimating her as I was in that position before when I went to America to fight for world titles; so I’m expecting her to have put the work in.”

I know Hannah, she is at once lovely and bastard hard; she loves the trenches, relishing the reckoning there. Given her all guns blazing, Braveheart bloodlust, what does Hannah think viewers are going to see against the “Savage” Curran? Put simply,

“I think you’re in for an exciting fight!”

An understatement from an intelligent woman far too savvy to let loose with much more. An exciting fight, an opportunity to showcase women’s boxing, and one available to all. Another opportunity which excites Hannah,

“I’m very proud to be getting the chance to represent women’s boxing on BBC Scotland. I think I’ll be the first UK female to headline a UK televised card so that’s exciting! And yes it will be great to get more people involved in boxing in Scotland and get more people aware of women’s boxing at home.”

As this huge moment closes in, as hours become interminable minutes scale watching and interviews with midgets in South London, there has to be a routine? Everyone wants to talk, a lot of pressure as well as excitement. How does Hannah handle it? Again, she’s too smart for me.

“Fight week I always do the same routine but that’s for me to know. We’re focused on keeping sharp and just monitoring the weight before the weigh in and staying focused on the job in hand.

Nerves are all part of the job and being able to use them on fight night is important. I’ve had a lot of experience performing under pressure with my musical background [Hannah is a professional bassoonist, too] and I use all of this when it comes to being mentally ready for my fight.

I feel excited about finally getting to put all the hard work into action as we get closer to fight night.”

Aren’t we all. It’s a massive moment for a woman, a team, who have put their all into getting to this point, eating every chance; digesting each lesson with discipline and furious intent. Yet, despite all the hype and excitement around her own massive moment, Hannah took time to wish another British based fighter (who I spoke to last week) competing for an IBO World Title this weekend the best in her bout.

“I want to wish good luck to Lucy Wildheart who is also fighting for an IBO World Title over in France!”

Finally, there is no bigger, more prescient and important to ask. Is Hannah looking forward to becoming Team Southpaw Jab’s first world champion?

“That’s the goal! Haha!”

It goes without saying that all at Southpaw Jab are extremely excited for Hannah. A wonderful homecoming crowned with a belt. As they say at my rugby club, for Team Rankin it’s smashy smashy time… and the NEW!

*Hannah also wanted to thank her UK sparring partners: Sandy Ryan, Rosie Eccles, Lauren Price and Kirsty Bavington “Massive thank you to all of them as well!”

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