Rhiannon Dixon: “I don’t think I will ever be 100% happy with a performance because I am always looking to better myself.”
The highly-touted Warrington prospect Rhiannon Dixon finally made her long-awaited return to action in Bolton two weeks against the tough and experienced Polish fighter Karina Kopinska. It was a fight that served many purposes, not least, to shed the ring rust accumulated from the enforced advance from the ring. From ringside, you could see Dixon slowly shedding the cobwebs and gradually finding her lost rhythm once more.
Dixon won every round and eased to a comfortable and deserved 40-36 victory and extended her unbeaten record to 3-0 in the process. The lightweight hopeful wasn’t entirely pleased with her performance as she told FightPost she will take the experience as a valuable learning experience for her next fight in Liverpool:
“I wasn’t impressed with my performance, it was a little better than my previous two fights. Looking back now I can see the things I should have done. But looking back and seeing what I did wrong is still fresh in my mind for October 9th in Liverpool.”
Dixon is being more than a little harsh on her performance. Kopinska is rarely stopped and knows how to survive and frustrate her opponents. The Polish veteran gave her usual value for money display and despite her own protests, Dixon can be pleased with her afternoon’s work. She attacked the body with real purpose all fight long showing the benefits of her new partnership with the former world champion Anthony Crolla.
But Dixon is a fighter looking for perfection, which will be a useful tool as her career takes her further along the boxing ladder:
“I was hurting her to the body, and Anthony said to carry on going to the body. But what I should have done is, when I was going to the lead hand hook she was moving out to the left every time. So I should have scooped to the left side, feinted as if I was going to the body and then come in with my left hand to the body or the head. Or I could have feinted to go one way and go the other with my lead hand. There were sometimes when she threw a flurry of punches and I stepped back but I just didn’t throw my lead hand which was something we had practised. I have a lot to learn, I only had 7 white-collar fights before I turned pro.”
With no fight since late 2019, ring rust was understandable and boxing on a sold-out show in front of her family and friends added to the obvious pressures. But with a willingness to improve from every experience Dixon has vowed to learn from this for her next outing early next month:
“There was ring rust too and letting the occasion get to me a little bit. It’s not that I hate fighting in front of my family but you want to put on a good show for them. I also wanted to put on a good show before Liverpool and I think I put too much pressure on myself rather than just go out there and enjoy being back out again. I am now obviously fighting again in a few weeks and then hopefully, I can have a proper break because I haven’t had one for so long.”
A fighter who is easily pleased is less likely to improve to the level they need. Dixon in that search for perfection will no doubt benefit from her own heavy self-critique. But for balance, Dixon has an experienced team behind her full of world championship-winning experience. With Crolla and Joe Gallagher readily available, Dixon is far better placed than many. It certainly was a fight full of positives, and her team were pleased with what they saw:
“I feel everyone is their worst critic, afterwards I was really disappointed with my performance. But then Anthony said my footwork was really good and he was really impressed. I have been through the fight with Anthony and Joe Gallagher and looking at the positives and after speaking to them I felt better about my performance. They are obviously so knowledgeable about boxing and if they say this was good and that was good then it gives you a confidence boost. I don’t think I will ever be 100% happy with a performance because I am always looking to better myself.
“Anthony was really happy with it. He thought it was a really classy performance and if it had been over six rounds it could potentially have been stopped. But he also said what improvements could be made and what we could implement better on October 9th with the things we had worked on.”
It was only the third fight in her professional career, and with her latest appearance being over the sprint distance, Dixon is happy she is moving up to a longer distance for her next fight:
“With 4 two-minute rounds, you can’t really afford to lose a round so I am glad I am moving up to 6 rounds now so I have got more time to think what I am doing. You walk out and the fight is over before you know it.”
Next time, is the big Matchroom sold out Liverpool show on October 9th headlined by Liam Smith and Anthony Fowler. For a fighter still very much at the novice stage, it speaks volumes of the potential Dixon has.
Dixon will share the card with her training partner and two-time world title challenger Natasha Jonas. Miss GB has seen everything in her long career, and just being in and around her in a busy Matchroom fight week will be an invaluable learning experience for the young hopeful:
“I am really excited for it and Tasha is on the same card as well. It will be good to just be in the same changing room as her and learns how she deals with things. Tasha is so calm because she has got so much experience and she is really good at making you feel at ease. So it will be really good to experience fight week with her and I am really looking forward to it. It’s on such a big stage and in the North West where I am from.”
There are many in the sport who see Dixon as a potential future star in her sport. Jonas told me:
“The only difference between me and her is confidence.” That is high praise indeed. Dixon is working on her confidence and could learn plenty from Jonas who rescued her own career from the ashes. An underappreciated career renaissance. Dixon is extremely well connected and that can’t do her any harm going forward.
Liverpool is the next step, a quick turnaround, but after so long out it is something Dixon welcomes, and needs. If Liverpool goes to plan, it will be a much-needed rest before hopefully, a third fight before the year is out. In many ways, Bolton was a new beginning, Liverpool is next, and more eyes will be on Dixon as her career moves to another level.
Dixon had been a frustrated fighter before her ‘comeback’ fight in Bolton. I saw her earlier in the year in Sheffield watching her friend James Moorcroft fight. It was a time when fight dates hadn’t arrived and there was no fight seemingly on the horizon. The frustration was obvious. But things have changed, and Dixon will get her chance and plenty of them. But with a career still in its infancy, patience is vital. Taking the right fights at the right time will be the key to that golden future so many predict.
Photo Credit: Karen Priestley