Warrington pharmacist becomes boxing World Champion after just 10 fights

Rhiannon Dixon's route to the world title has been unconventional from the very first time she stepped into the ring.

"I was meant to be fighting a girl called Chelsea," she said. "And this other girl turned up and said 'Yeah, they've sent me instead'.

"We were nowhere near the same weight and I thought, 'What have I got myself into here?'"

This was her first taste of white collar boxing. A pastime for people with no fighting experience.

Rhiannon worked on Covid wards during the pandemic, but was able to train after work releasing the pressure of the job.

This hospital pharmacist, who worked on Covid wards during the pandemic, did not fear the jabs.

"I thought, if I don't do it now, I'll never do it," says Rhiannon of her first, mismatched, fight.

"So I did it and I won. And I thought 'Wow. This is the best feeling ever. I'm going to do more'."

Nearly all professional boxers have spent years in the amateur fight game, toughening up against the brightest young talents on the planet.

Rhiannon Dixon (right) and Katherina Thanderz in action during a Women's Lightweight match in September. Credit: PA Images

But, in boxing, timing is everything.

The phone call from Rhiannon's manager to former world champion, turned coach, Anthony Crolla was answered on the morning after a particularly heavy night out, during a lads trip to Portugal.

Crolla has admitted that Rhiannon has that hangover to thank for agreeing to take on a complete novice.

A novice who, just 10 fights later, is Commonwealth, European and World Champion after defeating Karen Carabajal in Manchester's packed AO Arena.

Chris Hall's interview with Rhiannon in full

"I still don't feel like a world champion," admits Rhiannon.

"And then I see the belt and I'm shocked. I think "Whose belt is this?" but it's mine! It will probably sink in when I'm back in training. But it still doesn't feel real.

"I'm really self-critical. At the end of the fight I came back to my corner and Anthony was telling me to put my hands up because I was world champion. But all I could think about was all the things I did wrong.

"What really shocked me was how many people were there and shouting for me.

"You could see when I walked into the ring and all these people were shouting for me, I was thinking 'Oh my God.

"How do all these people know who I am?' It's a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life."

Rhiannon's made mistakes along the way. She recalls with horror how she swore at her idol, Katie Taylor, when the multiple world champion asked to spar with her in training.

The dismissive obscenity came from a place of shock and a feeling of unworthiness on her own part. But headline writers spun it into an insult, leaving Rhiannon mortified.

Rhiannon beat Argentina's Karen Carabajal on points to take the World title. Credit: DAZN

But she's determined not to change or lose her humility despite her newfound title.

"All these other boxers have this really tough bravado and say "Oh, I don't get nervous, I don't get scared." But I can't fake it. I can only be me," she said.

"Like in the post-fight interview, all I could think about was that I'd made this fight really bad, and my mum's ringside, and she's going to be so upset.

"So I was saying 'I'm really sorry Mum. I made this a really hard fight. I thought I was this really big puncher and that I'm really hard. But I'm obviously not'.

"So no. I could only be myself. I can't pretend to be anyone else."

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