Rhiannon Dixon: “I feel like I’m having my debut all over again. Honestly, I am so excited, I can’t wait.“
I have interviewed Rhiannon Dixon on multiple occasions over the past year or so. But in a sign of the times, Dixon has been missing in action. Trust me, the punching pharmacist is desperate to fight. She has told me previously she would fight anybody. A desperation to fight doesn’t even cover it.
There have been fights scheduled, other fights mentioned, dates teased, and every single one of them has falling through for different reasons. But finally, Dixon gets a chance to reignite her career. This Sunday in Bolton the long wait will be over. With no fight since late 2019, Dixon told FightPost that this weekend’s fight has the feel of her professional debut once more:
“I feel like I’m having my debut all over again. Honestly, I am so excited, I can’t wait. It got to a point last May/June time when I was going to training, I was still motivated but it wasn’t the same as earlier on the year when I was given dates or like now. When Steve Wood said I was fighting on the 12th it literally lit a fire in my belly and I’ve got those feelings again like I had when I had my pro debut.”
The unbeaten Wigan lightweight prospect has cut a frustrated figure of late. Potential fight dates came and went, Jake James and James Moorcroft who Dixon trains alongside, managed to get fights, leaving Dixon somewhat out in the cold. But there have been benefits to her extended hiatus
“I always knew I was going to fight again and I was really happy for James and Jake because we have all been stuck in the same position so I was pleased for them when they got their fights. But obviously, I have had unbelievable sparring this whole time. It started with Natasha Jonas then it was Chantelle Cameron, Savannah Marshall, Hannah Robinson and others, so for me, it has been like a massive learning year. I have come on so much and every day in sparring I feel like I am learning new things. You do get experience from fighting but I wouldn’t have been fighting girls to the level I have been sparring with.
“With Tasha because she is a southpaw, if I see her do something I will try and do it the next round. Training alongside her has brought me on so much and then learning from Anthony Crolla and Joe Gallagher, nobody at my level would have had this kind of opportunity. Then with Hannah who is a top amateur and is on Team GB, I haven’t got that amateur experience so it is a great learning experience, she is so fast, so strong. I am so lucky.”
Dixon has had to endure a frustrating time since her last ring appearance. Told to stay on fighting weight with possible dates looming on the horizon, it was an endless grind of training and sacrifice before yet another disappointment with no end product for her work. Dixon eventually took a little time off but is now back and eager to get her career up and running again:
“With fight dates coming and going it has been difficult staying on weight so when I thought there weren’t any more fight dates coming up I thought I’ll have a week off because I have been in the gym virtually every day since forever. But I am back around my fight weight again now, it’s not really hard for me losing weight.”
The switch to Anthony Crolla has been allowed to develop, building that trust and working relationship every fighter needs to be able to grow. The old-style has changed, a much more refined version is promised for her fight on Sunday.
“We will never get this time again. When people move gyms they usually only get a small amount of time to get to know your coaches before you are fighting again. But Anthony and I have had so long to get to know each other and just gel as a partnership. Before I was just a brawler who would take punches to get my punches in, I was just very aggressive. But now, I am trying to be a lot more smarter and cuter with my boxing and footwork and Anthony is really bringing that on. I feel my boxing IQ is just getting better all the time now. I am just thinking a lot more now where I want to and need to be in the ring, and to change my style for certain fights. And my guard was just awful, now I know why my nose is so crooked, and now I am trying to preserve my nose so it doesn’t get any worse.”
Sunday is the first step, but Dixon has another opportunity already lined up. Fight Camp was a distinct possibility, but Dixon will finally land on a Matchroom show in October. A big card, a local derby, a full house, Dixon after her long wait, can’t believe she has landed on one of the biggest domestic cards of the year:
“I am going to be on the October 9th Liam Smith Anthony Fowler Matchroom show in Liverpool. I drove past the arena the other day and I said oh my god I am going to be fighting there soon it’s unbelievable and with me coming from the White-Collar scene as well, and then going to fight on a massive arena card like that, I just can’t believe it.”
There has been considerable hype around Dixon, the link up with a former world champion can only benefit her career, especially with the top quality sparring at her disposal.
Dixon (2-0) has been doing the rounds on all the big boxing media outlets, even during her absence, the name of Rhiannon Dixon was kept very much active. A lesson to many others in the same position.
There is no arrogance with Dixon, grateful for where she is and the opportunities that lie ahead. But make no mistake, when the gloves are on, a switch is flicked.
The plan going forward is to stay active, and humble:
“I am just trying to get out as much as possible and try to get as much experience as I can and then work my way up. But in women’s boxing, you move dead fast and because I don’t have that amateur experience I don’t want to be coming out and saying I will be a world champion because I could potentially be coming up against fighters who have fought on Team GB and been to the Olympics. So I just want to keep my head down and keep training and take every opportunity I can.”
Dixon is a fully qualified pharmacist, and she has put that career temporarily on hold to pursue another. This Sunday in Bolton everything starts again. Karina Kopinska the tough durable Polish fighter will welcome Dixon back to action. Kopinska should on previous form give Dixon some much-needed rounds. If Dixon does manage to force a stoppage on her return, that will be a real statement, many more experienced fighters have failed to stop Kopinska.
But Sunday is about getting back the old feeling once again, it might be the starter before the main event in Liverpool next month, but it is still a fight of the utmost importance. Many have predicted a very big future for Dixon, Crolla has labelled her a potential star. In Bolton, we will get to see a little glimpse of what the future may hold. The excitement is obvious, don’t be surprised if all the frustration of the recent past comes out on Sunday. Dixon could very well do what others have failed to do.