Hannah Rankin is an entertainer to her core.

The classical musician spent most of her twenties performing as a bassoonist and so it made sense that when she began to dip her toe into the athletic world, it was the most theatrical of all sports – boxing - she chose.

But the line between sport and entertainment within the boxing world has become too fuzzy for many people’s liking, including Rankin.

Specifically men’s boxing has, in recent times, become flooded with Youtubers and influencers.

From Jake Paul to his brother, Logan, to KSI and the rest, influencers trying their hand in the boxing ring are now becoming routine on the men’s side of the sport.

But Rankin, who has dedicated more than a decade of her life to reaching the very top of her sport, becoming Scotland’s first-ever female boxing world champion in the process, could not be more exasperated with the newly-created fad in the boxing world which has seen influencers and Youtubers become some of the most highly-paid, widely-covered fighters on the planet.

The most recent example of this phenomenon was Tommy Fury taking on KSI last month. In a bout that was bought on pay-per-view by 1.3 million people, it made both men millions of pounds.

The Herald: KSI and Tommy Fury fought last monthKSI and Tommy Fury fought last month (Image: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

One of those spectators was most certainly not Rankin.

Despite being an avid fan of her sport, the 33-year-old refuses to be drawn into the circus that’s being created by the influx of influencers.

“I can’t, for the life of me, understand why anyone would want to watch this stuff, 33-year-old Rankin from Luss says. 

“I have literally zero interest in watching these people box at a level that’s far worse than some of the white collar shows I’ve been to.

“I didn’t watch a minute of Fury-KSI, there’s no part of me that would ever want to spend any of my money or time to watch it – why would I do that? 

“I understand that it gets more eyes on the sport and brings people from different backgrounds to boxing but I’m not convinced how much they then become fans of the actual sport itself or whether they’re just dipping in to watch their favourite influencer and then they drop back out.

“It is incredibly frustrating seeing the money involved, I’m not going to lie, but you can’t knock these guys and their business plans. It’s amazing the profile they have and the ticket sales they achieve – they sold out Manchester Arena for the Fury-KSI show, that absolutely blew my mind.”

So often, women’s sport follows the trajectory of men’s sport. 

Already, one female influencer in the shape of Daniella Hemsley has made more than a few headlines, but not for her boxing ability.

After a victory earlier this summer, Hemsley lifted her top to expose herself which, unsurprisingly, generated considerable attention.

And while the obvious question is does Rankin expect women’s boxing, in a few years time, to be similarly flooded with influencers, the Scot is in little doubt women’s boxing will not end up overflowing with the female equivalent of Paul and KSI, something she will be eternally grateful for.

“We are already seeing a few female influencers get into the ring but it was massively tarnished by Hemsley taking her top off and in that moment, literally every single female fighter thought oh my god, you’ve just taken us back ten years,” London-based Rankin says. 

“We’ve worked so hard to be taken seriously in our sport for this individual to then sexualise it was massively frustrating. 

“What does that do? It drags us back to the dark ages.

“I don’t feel women’s boxing is going to approach the level of influencers it’s reached in the men’s game – I don’t think there’s many female boxers who’d want to get in the ring for an exhibition with an influencer. So I’m pleased to say I’m not sure women’s boxing will follow suit.”

While Rankin is forever mindful of the future of her sport, her immediate focus is, once again, getting her hands on a world title belt.

Having won the IBO super-welterweight title in 2019 and again in 2021 along with the WBA super-welterweight title, Rankin now has her sights set on the WBC super-welterweight crown.

Next Saturday, Rankin will face Slovenia’s Ema Kozin for the vacant title at the Manchester Arena on a card that also includes her fellow Scot, Nathaniel Collins.

With a 13-6 professional record, Rankin is no stranger to big fight nights but she admits this will be one of the most significant of her career to date.

“Fighting for a world title is the pinnacle and it does have a different feel to other fights. And for me, it’d be particularly special to bring a third belt back to Scotland,” she says. 

“When there’s a world title on the line, it always adds something extra. And it’s amazing to be on such a fantastic card – seven title fights and we’re the only female fight on the card, and the only world title fight, so it’s an epic lineup to be a part of.”

Rankin is in confident mood coming off a victory in her last bout but Kozin will, the Scot knows, be no pushover.

The Herald:

The Slovenian is a two-weight world champion, currently holds the WBF super-welterweight title and boasts a 23-1 record with her only loss coming to America’s Claressa Shields last year.

But Rankin, who’s never one to shy away from a challenge, is anticipating a chance to show that she’s in as good form as she’s ever been, if not better.

“I’m really excited about this one and I’m expecting her to give it everything,” she says. 

“I’m feeling very confident. I’ve had great preparation for this fight and I really feel like it’s my time to grab this opportunity and make a bit more history for my country.

“I’m coming in physically stronger and better in all departments and I think everyone’s going to see that on fight night. I’m growing into the athlete I feel like I should be and I’m now ready to showcase that.”

Rankin’s bout with Kozin will be over the traditional, for female fighters, 10 rounds of two minutes. 

There has, in recent months, however, been a significant push from female boxers, led by Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano, for female fighters to be permitted to match the fight length of their male counterparts of 12 rounds of three minutes.

Serrano made history a fortnight ago by fighting Danila Ramos over 12 rounds of three minutes and while equality is something that Rankin has long strived for within her sport, she admits that, as much as any disparity between male and female fighters irks her, she’s somewhat reluctant to push too hard for equal fight lengths for men and women before considerable work is done to ensure all other aspects of the sport are equal too.

“I would love to have three minute rounds – as a female fighter, I don’t see any reason why we can’t,” she says. 

“But problems start to arise when you say ok, we’ll start doing 12 three minute rounds like the guys but we’re not getting paid anywhere near what the guys get paid for it.

“So, I think, in the short-term, a good compromise would be 12 two minute rounds.

“I believe at championship level, we really need to be going 12 rounds. But by keeping it at two minutes for the 12 rounds, the financial disparity isn’t quite as large.

“It’s amazing that people like Amanda Serrano are speaking out on this topic - she’s got a huge following and she’s a seven-weight world champion so people listen to her. 

“People like her, and myself, are always pushing for developments in the women’s game because if we’re at the top as world champions and we’re not looking to improve the sport then I don’t think anything will ever change. 

“So you’d need to phase this in which is why I think a good stepping stone is 12 twos for championship fights and then when people see that’s doable, which of course it is, we can then take the next step.

“People need to get used to paying us for 12 rounds and then we can start to ask for the finances for the next step up.”

It remains to be seen if such equality is achieved while Rankin remains an active fighter. 

But her immediate priority is far more achievable and that’s bringing yet another world title back to Scotland.