Hannah Rankin targets Natasha Jonas for super-welterweight world championship unification bout

"It will be a unification fight between two world champions so it would have the build-up and the excitement that it deserves," Hannah Rankin has welcomed a British battle against Natasha Jonas if the Scot retains her world titles on May 13

Hannah Rankin
Image: Hannah Rankin is targeting unification bouts in the super-welterweight division

Scotland's super-welterweight world champion Hannah Rankin has confirmed she is keen to take on Natasha Jonas in an all-British unification fight later this year.

Rankin, riding a wave of success after becoming the WBA and IBO champion at 154lbs in November, has just had the first defence of her belts - scheduled for May 13 - moved to Glasgow's Hydro Arena due to demand exceeding availability at the smaller venue that had initially been booked.

The 31-year-old is confident of beating Mexican Alejandra Ayala and has her sights set on a unification bout with Jonas, who sensationally became WBO champion in February after moving up three weight divisions.

"When I win this fight for me my goal is to unify the division, that's what I want to do," says Rankin, who was part of the Sky Sports commentary team for Jonas' victory.

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Natasha Jonas delivered an explosive KO win to earn a world title at the third attempt

"It was a real surprise to I think everyone in the boxing world that Tasha stepped up to the super-welterweight division, but it's mixed everything up really nicely.

"That would be a great fight for women's boxing - both Tasha and I, world champions, in the same weight class, in this country - both flying the flag really high for women's boxing and pushing it forward and trying to be the change in the sport that we want to see.

"Both our styles are exciting, it would make for a very exciting fight when we get together."

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In the aftermath of Jonas' victory over Christian Namus at the Manchester Arena in February, both the Liverpool fighter and promoter Ben Shalom expressed interest in a matchup with Rankin.

Jonas spoke of her "respect" for Rankin, but said she was "confident" of beating the Scot.

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Jonas wants an England vs Scotland clash against Rankin

Rankin insists she would offer a tougher challenge than Uruguayan Namus, who Jonas spectacularly stopped inside two rounds.

"Obviously I 100 per cent back myself to win that fight," Rankin said.

"It would be a different experience. I'm a fully-fledged super welterweight and I wouldn't be coming on short notice. It will be a unification fight between two world champions so it would have the build-up and the excitement that it deserves.

"It's an exciting fight for people to watch and people are already talking about it."

'I jumped at chance to headline Hydro'

The fact that Rankin will headline against Ayala in Glasgow's 14,000-seater Hydro Arena punctuates the emphatic rise she has made in the last couple of years.

Rankin was also part of the Sky Sports commentary team for fellow Scot Josh Taylor's world title defence against Jack Catterall at the Hydro in February, at which point she did not know she would soon be headlining the arena herself.

"Obviously, I jumped at it, because I've always really wanted to fight there," Rankin said.

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Highlights of Josh Taylor's controversial points victory over Jack Catterall

"Having just been with Sky for the Josh Taylor card, feeling the atmosphere in there while I was doing the commentary, it was insane.

"I was just saying I'd love an opportunity to fight here, hopefully one day in the future, and it came around a lot quicker than I expected."

Rankin insists she is not looking past Ayala, but is aware a unification fight with Jonas will no doubt ensure a return to one of Britain's biggest arenas.

"My main focus right now is Alejandra, putting on a great performance and then we'll see what my team want me to do and we'll see where we're going," she added.

"I'm getting a taste of it at this event at the Hydro, so no doubt Tasha and I would be in a massive arena for that one putting on a show for everybody."

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