Hannah Rankin: “Fightzone is a platform about the fighters, for the fighters.”

Hannah Rankin: “Fightzone is a platform about the fighters, for the fighters.”

By Jack Rainbow

The last time I spoke to former IBO world champion Hannah Rankin was directly before her fight with Savannah Marshall. Despite being on the wrong end of the result, there were many positives taken by Hannah from this defeat:

“It was a good opportunity during lockdown to get out as a fighter. I feel I performed well in the first half of the fight, and then got a perforated eardrum, and the next few rounds I didn’t have the same balance so it wasn’t the same fight. But take nothing away from Marshall, she was too big and good on the night so I am not disappointed with the outcome. Obviously, I wanted to win but I’m not disappointed with my performance, and you need to learn from injuries in a fight”

Ever since this defeat, Hannah’s career has taken on an unorthodox and exciting path. This started with her performing in South Africa, in the middle of the pandemic, for the first time in her career:

“I enjoyed going down to welterweight in March, I made the weight well, and fighting in South Africa was really enjoyable, I had great fun, and I fought a two-time South African champion, and it was a really good solid win for me. I have gone to all different places and fought all different people in my career which is quite exciting. There is a wealth of talent in Africa, especially in the women’s division, which you often don’t see because of visa’s and other various issues. When I was offered to fight a South African champion, it was an opportunity to shed some light on fighting out there and I grabbed it with both hands.”

This was widely acclaimed as one of the best performances of Hannahs career:

“I got to showcase my boxing. I got to fight on the back foot, and use my advantage of having a longer reach. I was really pleased with my performance, coming off a loss and having COVID before Christmas, and I enjoyed that fight very much.”

Next up though is an even more exciting opportunity. Hannah will fight for the vacant WBA super-welterweight title, on Fightzone early next month. This is naturally a huge fight in her career, and she understands the importance and significance of it:

“I am fighting for the WBA world title, [against Maria Lindburg] and that title has just become vacant. Fightzone is the perfect platform for this to be shown. It’s £4.99 a month, less than two pints, and gives us the chance to showcase women’s boxing. I’m headlining with a world title shot, and it doesn’t cost a lot to watch it. Women’s boxing has been such a highlight since the pandemic.”

Hannah’s enthusiasm for Fightzone was very evident. The new streaming platform gives boxing fans the chance to watch normally non-televised small hall shows for the small price of £4.99 a month. Hannah has signed a promotional deal with Dennis Hobson and Fightzone, and has done commentary on some of their cards:

“The thing with the platform of Fightzone is it showcases British talent. It gives brilliant fights the chance to be shown on streaming platforms. There are so many small hall shows which have firecracker fights on them, so the public doesn’t have a chance to see these fighters unless they fight on Matchroom shows or something. Fightzone wants to give people who don’t have a chance to be shown on-air, out there, and get them better known. It gets people behind fighters and is good for British boxing.”

Making history and breaking new ground is something very significant to Hannah, evidenced by her trip to South Africa. She believes being on this new platform is ideal for her and loves the versatility the streaming site offers in regards to locations of cards:

“This opportunity is something I have been talking to my manager, Dennis Hobson, and his fight academy about for a while. I got to watch a little bit more of what Fightzone is doing, and they have had exciting shows every weekend. They go to all parts of the country, not just focused on London or Glasgow, it’s in Leicester, Sheffield in Liverpool. I am so excited about it, as coming from the female side, we don’t get much air time. Women’s boxing has found it difficult to get time on-air and streaming platforms.”

Hannah’s passion is incredibly infectious. She articulated clearly why she loved this project, and the opportunities it would give lower level fighters looking to make a name for themselves, as well as explaining how she saw it as super beneficial to the fans:

“Lots of fighters don’t get a chance to showcase their skills unless they’re on a big card, and actually some amazing fights are happening, which the general public doesn’t know about. This applies to many small hall shows. Fightzone builds fighters as people and gives them a chance to come to talk after their fights. I think it is great as the public gets to see a bit about their personality, helping them buy into their journey.

“Fightzone is a platform about the fighters, for the fighters. There are also more 50/50 fights happening and fighters are more willing to take a chance, with a chance of winning a title. They know that Fightzone and Dennis Hobson won’t just drop them if they lose a fight, they’ll get an opportunity to come back again. It’s nice for a fighter to feel supported, and persuaded to take a risk and get out of their comfort zone.”

Another big change in Hannah’s life in recent months is her beginning to commentate and analyse on her new promotional home. Before going into training camp Hannah was on various broadcasts, offering her insights into the fights:

“I have always had a real interest in commentating. We could always do with more female commentators especially with the rise of women boxers, but I’m also an absolute boxing geek! I started on the Glasgow card with Emma Dodds and Glen McCrory, and they said I had a natural talent for it and they would mentor and support me, and it is a potential career for me once I become undisputed.”

Fightzone is something not only very exciting for Hannah, but comforting as she finds a promotional company and streaming service, ready to invest in her and women’s boxing:

“I have worked hard to get into the position I am in now, and I have fought some of the best fighters of my era and I became a world champion. It’s nice to find a little area in which I enjoy, and it is an exciting time ahead for me!”

In part two of my interview with Hannah, she discusses her opinions on changes needed for women’s boxing to ensure safety and increase entertainment, as well as discussing her future with Fightzone and what to expect in her return fight in early November.

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