By Thomas Gerbasi
WBA women’s super middleweight champion Alicia Napoleon may have seen a June 21 non-title bout fall by the wayside when her opponent failed to show up, but promoter Lou DiBella has produced a quick turnaround and an even better opportunity for “The Empress” in the form of a home game on August 4 in Long Island.
Napoleon (9-1, 5 KOs) will defend her title for the first time against Scotland’s Hannah Rankin on the Andre Berto-Devon Alexander undercard at NYCB Live: Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, marking the Long Islander’s first start since winning the 168-pound belt in March with a victory over previously unbeaten Femke Hermans.
Napoleon was scheduled to face Vashon Living at the Melrose Ballroom in Queens last month, but Living was a no-show at the weigh-in, scrapping the bout.
With a title on the line, there should be no such issues this time, with the 27-year-old Rankin (5-1, 1 KO) – who is currently in camp with pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Braekhus – ready to challenge for her first world championship following a near-shutout victory over unbeaten Sanna Turunen that netted her the WBC silver title at 160 pounds.
As for Napoleon, a win will keep her current winning streak intact and keep her in the running for a shot at the big names in and around her division, Claressa Shields and Christina Hammer.