Hannah Rankin, the IBO Super Welterweight world champion, is currently in Malta with her team ahead of yet another world title fight. The Team Southpaw Jab member defends the title this Wednesday (27th November), and aims to add the interim WBC Super Welter World Title to her collection. Rankin, who was recently named Scotland’s sportswoman of the year, faces unbeaten Swede Patricia Berghult.
Although unbeaten in thirteen fights, Berghult has only gone away from her home country twice and that was to fight inferior opposition. A look at her record closely makes it seem less impressive than the numbers suggest, too.
Three early wins from thirteen doesn’t imply Berghult is a banger, either. The Swede has fought an eight rounder once, that’s her longest spell in the ring. She’s also only boxed fighters with losing records or who are relative novices- arguably Yamilla Belen Abellaneda aside. This is Berghult’s first title fight of any sort.
On the other hand Hannah has taken a few high risk/ reward fights already, and has held the WBC Silver Middleweight Title in addition to her current IBO strap. In August last year the proud Scot competed for the WBA World Super Middleweight Tile which ended in a points loss to the champion Alicia Napoleon. The fight was a barn-burner, though Napoleon was a clear winner on the cards.
That performance led to a shot at self proclaimed “greatest woman of all time”, multi Olympic Gold winner, Claressa Shields last November. Shields was a two weight world champion at the time and was defending her IBF and WBA World Middleweight Titles (the vacant WBC belt was also on the line). Despite claims in an at times fiery build up that she’d knock Hannah out, Shields realised she’d ran into a far tougher customer than she’d expected. Claressa had to settle for a points win.
Malta playing host to her defence makes this Rankin’s fifth fight away from home. Each time she’s gone away Hannah has built relationships with her former foes; going back to get top level sparring with Shields and Napoleon. Hannah and trainer Noel Callan were already travelling wherever they could to learn from the best around the world. To be fair to Berghult, she resides in Scandinavia and there are no shortages of brilliant champions to train and spar with out there.
Although both fighters are of a similar height, Berghult’s career high weight is 147lbs, where Rankin’s is 158lbs which suggests she is the naturally larger woman. The limit on Wednesday is 154lbs. Both too are orthodox. While something of an unknown quantity, a look at Berghult on YouTube shows she has fairly long arms which she can throw in close as well as at range. However she has a tendency to look a little wild at times and sometimes ends up square on when throwing.
She took a little while to adjust to Sarah Curran when she outpointed her for her IBO title back in June, but Rankin did at least adjust to win. Always listening to Callan’s instructions Hannah’s preferred style is to work her way inside, then plant her feet and unload hooks. Hooks which look to be more tidy and powerful than Berghult’s.
Looks can be deceptive, but time will tell and who knows what game plan he two ladies will employ. Patricia does not look scared of a scrap however, which is lucky because Hannah loves them. Were the fight to end up being a dust up, Rankin’s natural weight advantage and knowledge of the championship rounds can see her stop a tired Berghult late on.
It should be a great fight and may the best woman win- make sure you tune in.