There are few sports in which mental strength is quite so crucial as boxing.

And, admits Hannah Rankin, it was her mental state that was one of the major reasons she lost her grip on her two world titles just a few months ago but when she returns to the ring this evening, she is certain she will display no chinks in her mental armour.

In September, Rankin was defeated by Englishwoman, Terri Harper and, in the process, relinquished her two world titles.

But that performance, which by her own high standards was below par, was down to the fact she had still not recovered from a situation which all boxers acknowledge is possible but dread happening to either themselves or their opponent.

Last May, Rankin retained her WBA and IBO super-welterweight titles by knocking out Mexico’s Alejandra Ayala but the aftermath saw the Mexican put into an induced coma and despite having now made a full recovery, has been forced to retire from the sport for good.

Being thrown into what is all boxers worst nightmare, though, knocked Rankin off kilter more than she could ever have imagined and ultimately, was, she believes, a significant factor in her losing her world titles against Harper.

“My last performance wasn’t my best – it wasn’t the true Hannah Rankin in there against Terri Harper, she says.

“What happened with Alejandra (Ayala) is something you can never prepare yourself for.

“We all know the dangers in our sport and we sign up for this but you never imagine something like that will ever happen to you or to your opponent. So it was a really horrible situation to be thrown into.

“And it was my first real experience of the very negative side of social media. I’m a very positive person and use social media for good but after that fight, I received a lot of abuse, people were telling lies by saying things like she had died and it showed me a really dark side of social media that gave my mental health a real knock.

“I thought I was good to go again but it wasn’t until fight night against Harper arrived that I realised I wasn’t, I went into the Harper fight too soon.

“But hindsight is a wonderful thing and you live and you learn.”

Rankin is now out to prove she’s back to her old self.

Tonight, the 32-year-old who hails from Luss will take on Logan Holler in Wolverhampton and with the American ranked eighth in the WBA rankings, Rankin knows she will be no pushover.

But with her sights fully set on regaining her world titles in the near future, she has no interest in fighting journeywomen or novices who will not help her reach her ultimate goal.

“People have suggested I could have had an easier opponent in my comeback fight but I’ve never done that in my entire career and I’ve no intention of doing it now,” says Rankin, who has spent her camp ahead of this bout in Dundee rather than London, which has been her home for the past twelve years.

“As a former world champion and as someone who’s got aspirations of becoming world champion again, I believe you should be out there fighting good fighters. “Holler is a good fighter and I’m expecting a really exciting fight.”

What has long made Rankin stand out from the pack, and continues to do so, is her keenness to do everything she can to grow the sport while simultaneously pursuing her goal of becoming the best female super-welterweight in the world.

And the past few months have been no different.

Much of her decision to base herself in Dundee ahead of this fight was to be part of a world-leading study by her personal sports scientist, Andrew Usher, and Abertay University into performance and combat athletes - specifically female combat athletes - an area in which in-depth data is sorely lacking.

And while the research project will, she hopes, have a lasting impact on the sport, she’s also benefitted personally.

“Hopefully through this research, it will improve the safety of boxing but also give the winning edge to a female fighter who’s aspiring to be world champion,” she says. Almost all of the current research is on male athletes so there’s so much more we can find out about female fighters and use that to move the sport forward.

“And personally, I’ve learnt a huge amount about myself throughout this research.

“I’m a bit of a geek and it’s nice for me to look at the data and the changes each week. As a professional athlete, you want to push yourself and so with being able to see the figures, it’s good because you know where you can push that little bit more and reach new PBs and so I really feel like it’ll all come together for this fight.”

Rankin also took a day out of training earlier this year to visit 10 Downing Street.

Her visit to the Prime Minister’s office was with Boxwise, the social enterprise initiative that uses boxing to empower young people.

And while Rankin admits so many extra curricular activities make for a hectic schedule, she’s in no doubt that having layers in her life on top of her own boxing career is a net positive.

“Boxing was there for me at a really difficult time in my life. When my mum was diagnosed with cancer and then when she passed away, boxing was the one thing that was really there to get me through,” she says.

“So long-term, I want to give as much back to boxing as I can so other people can benefit as much from boxing as I did when I really needed it.

“Boxwise does really fantastic work and it makes a really positive change in communities in terms of reducing gang crime, knife crime and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

“It’s really important for me to have an outlet other than just boxing because I like things that keep me mentally stimulated.

When you’re only focused on one thing, you can get tunnel vision so it’s healthy to have different outlets for your energy and so to be doing things like this is brilliant.”