ONLY the coldest heart could argue that Hannah Rankin doesn’t deserve her return to the spotlight. Women’s boxing hasn’t always had the prominence it deserves but the restrictions imposed by the pandemic are providing the sport with a platform like never before, with a number of British fighters being given the opportunity to challenge for world titles on mainstream television.

Rankin is shrewd enough to understand the motives behind this elevation to prominence but is grateful for the opportunity nevertheless.

The 30 year-old from Luss takes on Savannah Marshall this weekend for the vacant WBO middleweight title as part of a packed Matchroom card promoted by Eddie Hearn and broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Victory in the re-arranged bout – the original contest earlier this month was postponed after Marshall’s trainer Peter Fury tested positive for coronavirus – would see her become a two-weight world champion in just her 14th professional contest, having become Scotland’s first female world champion in June 2019 before losing that belt last November.

The Kynoch Boxing fighter has enjoyed other high-profile occasions in the United States but also experienced the less glamorous side of the sport, competing in small halls in front of a handful of spectators.

She has put in the hours in the gym, travelled all around the world to spar, and dedicated herself to her chosen discipline, on top of also working as a musician and teacher to pay the bills. Win or lose, this fight with Marshall is a reward for years of honest toil.

“As bad as the situation around Covid has been in general for the masses, it’s actually been a weird blessing in disguise for women’s boxing,” said Rankin.

“It’s given us a platform that we wouldn’t normally get. I’m not daft. Eddie Hearn is a terrific businessman and it’s cheaper to have female fights as we don’t get paid as much as the guys which is still a sore point.

“But it’s giving female boxers the chance to be on massive stages on primetime TV slots. I’ve now got the general public talking to me about these fights and they’re excited to see me in action. Female boxers are becoming household names – that’s something you could only dream of four or five years ago. It’s massive.

“I’m proud to be at the forefront of the change that’s happening. To see the public mindset change on something is really exciting.”

The undefeated Marshall made the mistake last year of criticising Rankin on social media and was soon put straight.

“We got on as friends before and I sparred with her before her pro debut,” she revealed. “Then when she became a Matchroom fighter, out of the blue after I lost my world title she started having a go at me on social media, saying I would be looking for opportunities because I no longer had the title.

“And I wasn’t having that. I’ve engineered everything I’ve achieved in my career all by myself. I’ve not had any leg up, nobody has helped me. I’ve deserved all the opportunities that come my way as I’ve worked hard for them.

“And, if anything, she needs me to fight her as she hasn’t got anybody else. She’s not got anyone exciting on her record so I’ll be the first top name that she’s actually faced. And that’s bad news for her as I’m going in there to win.”

Rankin has never lacked confidence in her abilities and believes she has what it takes to bring the belt back to Scotland.

“It’s great that the fight has been rescheduled so soon, so thank you to Eddie and Matchroom for sorting it all out," she added.

“Nothing changes for me. I will be crowned WBO middleweight world champion on October 31. Eddie has said we’re getting a lot of good 50:50 fights during lockdown and that’s exactly what this is. It’s not like she’s coming in as heavy favourite. People are genuinely excited for this.

“I believe I win it which is why I took the fight. I’ll be her first proper challenge. She’s not really been tested as a professional whereas I’ve got a much more extensive record and been in with better fighters. It’s the first time she’s made middleweight so there’s a lot in my favour.

“I’m going to be bringing my second world title back to Scotland, it’s been shown on a massive platform and I’m getting well paid for the fight after sticking to my guns. So for once there’s literally nothing to complain about.”