Ivana Habazin, the current IBO world middleweight boss and two weight ruler, was in England recently to work out with world number ten, and Southpaw Jab’s own, Hannah Rankin. Despite having to sit next to the Southpaw Jab crew over the course of a show at York Hall, the champion was forgiving enough to still allow us an interview. The lady from Zagreb has achieved much in her time as a pro, but at only twenty eight years old still has plenty in the tank and is as ambitious as ever. First up, though, is a defence of her world title.
The bout should take place in, “September or October”, Ivana says, against Noni Tenge- a South African with a hearty knockout ratio and holder of the WBF title. It is a tough fight, although having been in with names such as world champions Mikaela Lauren and Cecilia Braekhus, Habazin is no stranger to hard work. The loss to Lauren is one she would like to rectify, though, after fighting against the IBO super welter champion whilst unwell in what she describes as her, “hardest fight, for obvious reasons”.
Pressed on her ideal career from this point, retribution seems to be pretty high on the list, as the (now) middleweight looks at her former foes Lauren, and Braekhus. One other name crops up, though, when talking about her desire to, “rematch and win against Cecilia Braekhus, and to fight and take Claressa Shield’s title. Next to Cecilila and Claressa, my biggest desire is to fight against Mikaela Lauren because when we fought I was sick.”
With plenty still to do, and much to back her ambitions, a fight with Shields down the line would be a great event for Habazin. Certainly one Southpaw Jab would be incredibly happy to see. Shields, while talented in the ring and a survivor of a childhood so often the destruction of a person, is outspoken and brash, often misconstrued for charisma. #TeamSouthpawJab’s Rankin is herself keen to fight T-Rex, after she a Twitter spat with likeable Scot. Both Ivana and Hannah are too nice to trash talk, but both are fiercely competitive and don’t suffer fools.
Ivana has a wonderful cool about her, and a dry wit which made for fun at the recent British Warriors show. Headlined by Pink Tyson (“no comment”) the busy card saw some top prospects get out, and Ivana was impressed, “it was the first time I have watched fights that up close, because usually at events I’m in the backstage preparing for my fight and am not really paying attention to other fights. I was really delighted by the event, the guys were amazing and their fighting was great.”
It’s always nice to see someone enjoying their first time at York Hall, which has a thousand times more soul than sterile modern football stadiums. Ivana was convinced enough by the country and show to consider fighting here, “I hope to have a fight there [the UK]. Wouldn’t be bad for it to be a rematch with Cecilia Braekhus.” That would be a cracking fight, and who knows, a double bill topped by Habazin and Rankin would be an amazing event, and as women’s boxing grows in stature, who’s to say it is unfeasible.
Time in England has clearly had an effect on Ivana, describing it as, “magnificent, I really fell in love with London! I could see myself living there and would definitely love to go there again”.
Training with Hannah Rankin saw the two fighters form a bond, which was evident as they sat together at the home of boxing. Hannah said of the Croatian, “it’s great to be around someone with that champion’s mindset. It’s also been interesting to learn about how hard she’s worked to get where she is, and the difficulties she faced to get to this point. It was inspirational and proves that with determination, a belief in your abilities and working hard you can get there.”
The champion has got there, and plans on staying there. She was confident in Rankin’s future, too. Speaking of the contender, Ivana said, “Hannah is one really beautiful person, great athlete, a future world champion I’m sure and somebody who should be a role model to others. I really loved and enjoyed training with her, Noel and Lewis.” It is an exciting time for women’s boxing, and Ivana is a wonderful ambassador for the sport. Southpaw Jab look forward to following her career closely, and potentially seeing her fight on these shores