Hannah Rankin v Alejandra Ayala: Scot retains WBA and IBO super-welterweight titles

Hannah Rankin retained her two belts in front of 4,500 fans at Glasgow’s Hydro

Hannah Rankin retained her WBA and IBO super-welterweight titles with a devastating 10th-round knockout over Alejandra Ayala on a historic night for Scottish boxing at Glasgow’s Hydro.

After an evenly-fought first half of the bout, the Scot asserted her dominance to pick the Mexican challenger off in emphatic fashion in the final rounds.

Rankin, Scotland’s first female world champion, became the first woman to headline a major bout in her homeland in front of the 4,500-strong crowd.

With the magnitude of the occasion taking centre stage, Rankin had to ensure she blocked out all the outside emotion when the bell rung, while Ayala’s focus was on muting a boisterous home crowd on her first world title fight.

The challenger looked to impose her jab early and ended the first strongly after getting caught flush with a right over the top from the champion.

Even at such an early stage in the fight, missed shots from Ayala were causing the Mexican to look leggy as Rankin connected with a tidy jab and body shot before a hard-hitting left.

But the challenger composed in the third, planting a series head shots on the champion. Ayala continued to impress, landing combinations early in the fourth before Rankin came roaring back with a flurry that had the Hydro on its feet.

The Mexican’s jab was a constant threat to the Scot, who lost her rhythm through the fifth but again ended strong, leaving Ayala with a cut.

Going into the championship rounds, Ayala’s misses became more frequent, but the pair exchanged a crowd-raising flurry of shots in seventh, with Rankin closing the round out with a flush combination.

The Scot then pressured the challenger against the ropes with relentless blows on two occasions in the eighth.

The bell came at the right time for the Mexican, who showed immense heart to come out swinging in the ninth. But her fatigue was leaving her exposed as Rankin enjoyed another strong round.

By the time the final round came, the challenger, who fought so well throughout, wasn’t swinging back as the champion picked her off with shot after shot, leaving the referee with no choice but to end the bout.

Much of the pre-fight talk was centred around the potential opportunities that open up for the winner. After a historic night and stunning finish, the sky may well be the limit for Rankin.

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