Rankin’s Retribution: The Story of a Title Held Hostage

Rankin’s Retribution: The Story of a Title Held Hostage

By Ian Aldous

On a warm summer’s night in 2019, just outside Glasgow, Hannah Rankin had fulfilled her goal of becoming Scotland’s first-ever female boxing world champion. A unanimous decision victory over America’s Sarah Curran (now Sarah French) saw the proud Scot capture the IBO super-welterweight world crown, live on BBC Scotland. The world was her oyster.

Instead of resting on her laurels and choosing an easy title defence on home soil, Team Rankin made the unexpected decision to travel to Malta and defend against Patricia Berghult. The undefeated Swede was, and still is, a relatively high-risk, low-reward fighter.

After a six-round tune-up win in Michigan, Rankin took on Berghult just a month later, in November of 2019. Just three seconds into the contest, Rankin walked into a Berghult left hook and a flash knockdown instantly put the defending champion on the back foot. She would fail to perform to her usual standard and dropped the IBO title via scores of 95-94 and 96-93 (twice).

The tight nature of the championship bout led to calls for an instant rematch, which appeared to make perfect sense. However, Berghult and her team weren’t willing to play ball in the months that would ultimately precede the introduction of Covid-19 to the globe.

Despite repeated attempts to secure a rematch, the 14-0 Swede decided to keep the title hostage and not only refuse to fight Hannah, but anyone at all.

“You know who I want to fight. I want a rematch with Patricia Berghult,” Rankin told me in July 2020 amidst the frustration of not being able to get the rematch.

“Everybody knows that I will always take a fight and I’ll never turn down a fight,” she added. “I’m standing here and saying: ‘Give me the rematch, I gave you the chance to fight me – give me the rematch’. Her and her team are a bit wary, to be perfectly honest.”

Berghult’s team claimed they had other fights in the pipeline that didn’t involve the Sam Kynoch-managed fighter. They reluctantly accepted that fact and moved on. However, no fights materialised and the belt remained inactive.

“We chased that rematch. They did everything they could not to have that fight,” Noel Callan, Hannah’s trainer said.

Thankfully, the International Boxing Organization eventually stripped Patricia of the 154-pound world title, and it, as well as the WBA strap, will be on the line this November 5th when Rankin battles Maria Lindberg, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, live on Fightzone.

The 31-year-old will finally achieve redemption, and claim back her old title that was essentially held hostage for almost TWO YEARS, should she get past the Swedish veteran.

Lindberg will unquestionably hold the experience advantage being 44-years-old with a 19-7-2 record. The perennial contender has, however, lost on all five occasions when challenging for legitimate world titles. She beats the majority of her competition, but succumbs to the very best.

“A few of those fights, I believe she won,” Callan revealed. “I believe she beat Ema Kozin; there’s an argument to say she beat Ewa Piatkowska in Poland. She’s one of the original OG’s from the female boxing game.”

In her last fight, she was beaten up and stopped as a late-replacement by the WBO middleweight world champion, Savannah Marshall, who incidentally, is the only fighter with the distinction of being able to stop Rankin, who unsurprisingly lasted 4 more rounds with Marshall considering the 13-year age gap. Lindberg arrived in the UK for the Marshall fight without a coach, with little preparation, and in a weight-class above her own.

“I expect Maria to know this is her last opportunity, and if she doesn’t beat Hannah – there will be no more calls,” Callan explained. “So I expect the best Maria Lindberg to turn up. Maria has had a full training camp.”

The former IBO world champion is currently ranked No.3 by The Ring at 154-pounds and seems to be at home in this division having competed from 148 all the way up to 158-pounds.

Sparring with reigning WBC super-lightweight world champion, Chantelle Cameron will only help sharpen her tools ahead of the crunch clash, as well as Omarah Taylor, Team GB’s standout welterweight. Callan has referred to sparring for this camp as being “epic”.

Happy to fight anyone at anytime, anywhere, with a tremendous work ethic, the Scot is one of the prime examples to any youngster looking to become a boxer. She became Scotland’s first female world champion and is seeking to be its only two-time female world champion on November 5th, whilst also becoming Dennis Hobson’s first female world champion, and Fightzone’s first world champion.

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