Rhiannon Dixon: “In my head, there was no way I was having surgery before my Matchroom debut.”
Rhiannon Dixon, after a false start in October finally made her Matchroom debut in December last year. It was a comfortable night’s work for Dixon over former opponent Vaida Masiokaite in Manchester, but the win camouflaged a hand injury Dixon had been carrying since her fight in Bolton in September.
The damage to her left hand is another little painful reminder to many who don’t understand the sacrifices a fighter has to make and the pain they have to fight through. Dixon has had to adapt her training and disguise the injury and try to see out her commitments to the sport she passionately resides in. Over Zoom, Dixon told FightPost how difficult it has been not being able to mention the injury:
“It’s been hard not talking about it. Everyone has been messaging me asking me when I am fighting again but obviously, I couldn’t mention the injury. But then Anthony mentioned it in an interview that I have got a little injury to sort out. The whole time even before my fight it was hard not saying anything. I couldn’t spar and I couldn’t use the small gloves to train in, so I couldn’t really hit with it for the majority of the camp.”
Dixon has previously stated how disappointed she was with her performance in Manchester. But in this observer’s humble opinion, she is being incredibly harsh on herself, even more so with the injury she carried into the contest.
“I haven’t watched it back yet I was so disappointed with my performance. There is so much I can improve on,” words that indicate how much more there is to give and see.
When Dixon made her return to boxing after nearly two years out last September there was little evidence of the injury that will delay her progress. The damage only became apparent in the immediate aftermath of her third professional win:
“In the fight, I didn’t even feel it. It was Joe Gallagher who noticed it when I took my gloves off. He said my hand was swollen, it didn’t even hurt, but he told me to sit with my hand in a bucket of ice. I was eating chocolate with one hand and I had my other hand in the bucket. Anthony said I looked like a heroin addict but with chocolate. I had my hand in the bucket for about 30 minutes but the swelling just didn’t go down.”
The chocolate-loving fighter would have been forgiven if she had taken an extended time off to let the injury heal, but with a planned Matchroom debut in Liverpool only a few weeks away and already having spent nearly two years on the shelf, Dixon didn’t want to miss out on a possible debut on the big stage:
“I had a few days from training but when I went back the first punch I threw it just killed. I took my glove off and it was all swollen again. I went to that Cryo Lab in Manchester and I was having treatment on it every single day after training, but it was hurting all the time and the swelling just wasn’t going down. And then in my first spar back it just went again. It was like that until October 19th but then the fight in Liverpool fell through so I went and saw this hand specialist called Mike Hayton from Spire In Manchester. He said my tendon had come apart on one side so it needed to be stitched back on. Mike really helped me out, he always made time for appointments with me and has kept in touch since, seeing how I was going on.”
Liverpool was an obvious disappointment, make no mistake, she was a frustrated ringside spectator, inactive on what was supposed to be her big night. Her coming-out party. But with the promise of a swift return, Dixon stayed in training until the inevitable call came. When the unbeaten Warrington lightweight prospect received the call to be the opening act for Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora it was a case of managing and preserving the hand to get through the fight and get the hand operated on in the new year. Dixon had waited too long for her Matchroom moment:
“In my head, there was no way I was having surgery before my Matchroom debut, I will just put up with it.”
The hand was operated on in the early stages of the new year. While the scar is still very much visible, the healing process is well underway. Dixon is back in training, and a fight announcement is imminent.
After sitting on the sidelines for so long during the pandemic, Dixon will hope the latest setback is the final little bump in the road she has to overcome before she can embark on a full schedule of fighting. Despite the restrictions of many things, 2021 was still very much a year of progress for a fighter with considerable hype around her. Once the raw White-Collar fighter Dixon is now signed with the biggest promoter in the country. Hearn is building some stable of female talent and deserves immense credit for believing and investing in women’s boxing. That incredible arsenal of fighters Hearn has at his disposal might leave Dixon going under the radar somewhat, but only in the short term. 2022 will be a year of further growth, and fighting early on the Matchroom shows will do her no harm. But gradually Dixon will be moved up the card, and at some point in 2023, she is likely to be a fighter who will be firmly in the mix for the major titles.