Scottish boxer Hannah Rankin is excited and – most importantly – confident.
On Saturday night the fighter puts her IBO and WBA Super-Welterweight titles on the line as she takes on Terri Harper in Nottingham. Many of us mere mortals might retreat within ourselves if we were in a similar position – the pressure of being a co-main event at the Motorpoint Arena with so much riding on what happens inside that ring.
But not for Rankin. For her the pressure is a privilege, and she cannot wait to get going in her clash against a fighter who is moving up three weight classes to challenge the title holder. The Scot is also not mincing her words either and can’t see anything other than her arm being raised once the fight is done and dusted.
“I think fans are in for a firefight,” the 32-year-told Mirror Sport. “She’s a former world champion and, yes, she’s coming up from lower weight classes, but we’re both bringing class and skill to this fight.
“I think it’s going to be exciting for people to watch but I believe I’m too big, and I’m too strong, and I’m a true 154lb. It’s going to be a hard night’s work for her.”
Despite the jump up the classes, Harper is still a talented fighter. She’s a former world champion at super-featherweight but is adamant that this is the weight division she should be fighting at.
That hasn’t been lost on Rankin either. She may have gone from strength to strength since she first claimed the IBO title last year but she is well aware of the skills Harper has to showcase.
Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)
“She’s coming up from the lower weight classes so they’re usually quite nippy and quite quick with their feet – fast hands – and all that sort of thing,” she added.
“I think that’s her positives coming into this fight. She’s a good boxer. We’ve both got good skill sets and I’m going to be getting in there with another former world champion.
“But, like I said, I don’t think she belongs in my division. I’m aware of her positives, and I’m aware of her negatives, but me and the team have a great game plan for the night. I’m really excited to showcase it.”
“It’s the situation that every fighter doesn’t want to be involved in”
Mental strength is undoubtedly a key part to the success of any athlete. Rankin is no different and puts a huge amount of emphasis on the mental preparation ahead of any fight.
But athletes are still human and Rankin had a completely different type of mental challenge to overcome in the weeks prior. Her knockout victory last time out against Mexican boxer Alejandra Ayala – at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow back in May – was marred by the brain injury her opponent suffered.
Ayala was treated at the scene before being transferred to Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where the medics undoubtedly saved her life. She was put into a medically induced coma and underwent multiple surgeries. Thankfully, after a miracle recovery, she’s back home in Mexico undergoing therapy.
But, as mentioned, athletes are human and Rankin undoubtedly felt for her opponent throughout the ordeal.
“It’s the situation that every fighter doesn’t want to be involved in and you never imagine that you’re going to be in that fight,” she said.
“I’m so blessed with the support from the medical teams in Glasgow. Massive shout out to the hospitals up there as they did an amazing job with Alejandra and, thankfully, she’s back home, she’s with her family, and she’s recovering really well. So that’s great.
“After that me and my team got together, we talked about it and we had to work through it. There’s a lot of mental work that goes into things like that.
“But I’ve got the best team around me and that’s massively important in preparing me for every single fight. So, for this fight, I feel just as solidly mentally and physically prepared as I always am.
“At the end of the day all fighters know, when you sign up to fight and you sign on the dotted line, you are aware of the dangers and the risks that are involved in our sport.
“As she [Ayala] said after the fight, we’re both fighters and we both wish each other well. It would be the same situation for her if she was in my position.”
“It’s a privilege to feel pressure”
Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing)
It’s been a remarkable journey for Rankin in such a short space of time, from targeting becoming Scotland’s first female world champion as recently as 2019 to riding the wave that she’s now on. But it wasn’t always that way for the 32-year-old – who is also a classical musician – when she first got involved in the sport that has come to define her life.
“When I started as a professional boxer, I got into it to see how far I could go and what I could achieve,” she said. “I didn’t come into it to finish like Mayweather or something, you know.
“I didn’t come into it to want to be a world champion. I came into it to see how far I could go in the sport that I’d fallen in love with and had a huge passion for.
“I’ve definitely grown into being world champion. Where I am now, from where I was before, when I won it the first time, to when I won it the second time at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – I’ve physically and mentally grown as a fighter.
“My body shape has changed over the years, and I’ve been in multiple 10-round fights now, and multiple championship fights at different levels on huge platforms.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself too, I’m so much better at public speaking and I’m much better at doing interviews because you’re put in the spotlight all the time.”
Arguably the key to her success all comes down to that big, scary word again – pressure. Many thrive under it while many can become overawed by it.
But, for Rankin, it all comes down to viewing it as a privilege. Ultimately, if you’re there to be shot at then you must have things pretty good right now.
“As a champion, you’ve got a target on your back,” she explained. “So, it’s a privilege to feel pressure – you should enjoy it and embrace it.
“That’s the hardest thing that you’ve got to learn is to be able to embrace the pressure and just thrive off it. That’s something that I’ve really developed over the years, and I feel really excited.
“That’s why I feel excited about fight night because I’m actually thriving off the buzz of the pressure.”
- Hannah Rankin defends her world titles against Terri Harper in Nottingham this Saturday night. The full card will be streamed live on DAZN.