As far as statement wins are concerned, it might be a while until there is a more emphatic one than Sandy Ryan’s March 23 four-round mauling of Terri Harper.

It was supposed to be close. Ryan, a 30-year-old from Derby, was taking on a two-weight champion who in her last fight had boxed to a majority decision with veteran Cecilia Braekhaus – at super welterweight – but the likeable Harper was outgunned from the get-go by Ryan, who brought every puff of “the smoke” to the Sheffield Arena, to defend her world welterweight title.

Ryan, who had suffered an early loss in her career, and then was hard-done-by on the cards to only draw with Jessica McCaskill in Florida last year, had been written off in some quarters, but now – at 7-1-1 (3 KOs) – she is one of the hottest properties in women’s boxing and has just been gifted the freedom of her home city, where she hopes to one day headline in Derby’s Pride Park football stadium. 

What a difference a day makes, what a difference a fight makes. Ryan had switched up everything to get her career back on track. She had changed her training team and her management team, relocating to Las Vegas to train at DLX Boxing, one of the go-to fight facilities in the sport today.

The new Ryan, Sandy Ryan 2.0, had no hesitation showing she was a different beast against Harper. 

“You know what? I believed it and me and my team believed that’s how I needed to go into the fight and how it was going to end,” she said, a few days after the Harper destruction. “I had a lot of visions of how it was going to end. I think a lot of people had it 50/50, so for me to go and make a statement like that, it’s shown more people what I’m about and what I’m capable of.”

It is important to note that the softly-spoken Ryan is modest. She doesn’t ooze self-confidence, which is a pleasant quality in this sport, but she clearly knows she can fight and what she is capable of and the self-belief clearly exists within her.

The same could be said for her manager, the well-respected Brian Peters, who even went into Team Harper before the fight and said to Stefy Bull and Co: “Hard luck.”  

That set the tone.

Peters, of course, manages icon Katie Taylor and through boxing’s degrees of separation, Ryan blitzed Harper, who gave Natasha Jonas a hard fight, and Jonas was competitive with Taylor. 

While Taylor has no more than a handful of fights left in her storied career, Peters thinks Ryan could be the one to follow through in her slipstream.

And Ryan received more media attention from the aftermath of the Harper bout than her previous outings combined, and it demonstrated to her that she had made some smart choices.

“It reflected the hard work I put in while I was in Vegas and the commitment and the mindset of how I was locked in,” she admitted. “My mentality of being out there so long on my own, for nine weeks, and it all just came out on fight night.”

She lived the life of a fighter, and she lived the fight through from start to finish. Talking about life in Las Vegas, Ryan explained that it allowed her to focus, and while it had its challenges, she was okay out there. “Not tough as in I was struggling,” she said, “because I’m quite independent and I’m alright being on my own, training and being in those circumstances, but being so far away, there were days when I was lonely because I was there for a long time and say from my family and friends. But there was only a few times when I was lonely and it was hard but I feel like that made my mentality stronger.”

She worked with Coach Flick and Coach K in DLX and said, “They made it smooth for me. They were with me every training session every day, but in some down time she also went to watch U2 at the new Vegas landmark The Sphere.

And Peters was managing her, relentlessly checking in, giving her ideas, instructions, inspiring and pushing behind the scenes. Ryan listened, too, looking for any ounce of improvement she could muster ahead of such a pivotal contest.

“Just getting myself out of the comfort zone of being in the UK and I believe the level I’m at now, at world level, I need to do the extra one per cents and being away from everybody, being locked in, out of my comfort zone, no distractions…”

The McCaskill outcome had hit her hard, and that was another reason she performed as she did with Harper. 

“Don’t leave it to the judges,” she said, when asked what she had learned from the disputed draw in Florida.

“Sandy could become a KO artist,” said one camp member, excited by the shift in mindset. 

Because boxing at a high-level is not a new experience for Ryan. She had more than 90 amateur fights, was on Team GB for the best part of a decade and holds a victory over Olympic champion Lauren Price, who fights McCaskill for a world title in Wales next month.

Having faced both, Ryan is well-placed to discuss how that one might go.

“I’m kind of on the fence,” Sandy said. “I don’t mind who wins, but I feel like it could go either way. Either Lauren’s going to have a good night and she’s going to outbox Jess, or Jess could make it awkward for her because she’s a seasoned pro and let’s not forget, Lauren has done great, she’s a great athlete, but I feel like you need more experience in the pro game, more 10-rounders. She hasn’t had a real hard 10-round fight and to go in like that, that’s the only question there is.”

Ryan is also on a very short list – possibly of one – to have sparred both Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields. She was grateful to both for the work and the experience, and she learned plenty from them both, too.

“I wasn’t overawed,” Ryan recollected. “I was grateful for the spars and what I’ve learned. But I did feel like that’s the level that I belong at, so it was great for me. I took a lot from them.”

Ryan aspires to get to where they are. She has lofty goals, and the astute Irishman Peters will be guiding each step. 

“I want to become undisputed, so I want all the belts and I’ll take any fight Brian tells me, I’ll let him decide,” she went on.

“I feel very secure and comfortable that I’ve got someone around me that’s really guiding me, who’s guided the best, and the proof’s in the pudding with Katie. It kind of pushes me, gives me that extra something to be a world champion and I’m already back in training and I could take a fight in the next four to six weeks if Brian told me he had a fight for me.”

Fan-logic would dictate a big domestic showdown with Natasha Jonas makes sense, but Jonas is with Boxxer and Ryan is with Matchroom, and the promotional groups rarely exchange dialogue.

Amanda Serrano is probably too small and would not appreciate the low reward-high risk nature of a fight with Ryan, and then there’s Chantelle Cameron, who has won and lost with Taylor but seems unlikely to figure in Taylor’s plans for a trilogy fight.

But Ryan is at an early stage in her career. She could increase her education with a fight against someone like Braekhaus, and she can build on the Harper momentum with regular activity. She could fight again in June or July, and there is speculation that if Jonas does not rematch Mikaela Mayer, then Mayer is interested in Ryan.

But if Mayer beats Jonas, Team Ryan could find it easier to unify – politically – against the American. And there is already a storyline, given that Mayer made DLX Boxing her home before Ryan.

Asked specifically about facing Mayer, Ryan said: “100 per cent [she would fight her], whatever Brian says. I’ll take any fight. People know me by now, I’m not shy of a fight. I’ll fight anybody.”

Have they seen one another at DLX? 

“I’ve seen her about, yeah.”

Have they said anything to one another?

“Hello and goodbye.”

Peters is convinced Ryan will be a “different animal” fighting three or four times a year, and the mission is to stay busy and collect belts.

“No one has seen this beast that is coming,” said the camp insider.

Ryan is a girl from a council estate who has now won the freedom of her city. 

“That was amazing, to get that from the city where I’m from and people are supporting me, it’s nice,” she said. “I never thought that could happen but it just shows the hard work and sacrifices are paying off.”

Ryan’s the girl who, at 6-1-1, went to Vegas and bet big on herself and now her dreams are growing further still.

She would like to box at Pride Park. She has a Madison Square Garden dream, too. 

The team will want to build her profile while she collects more experience, in the Vegas gyms and in the prize ring, and while full of respect for Harper and her team, Ryan gave herself just a ‘six’ out of 10 for her performance.

“This is me, and there’s more to come. People haven’t seen half of what I’m capable of and Brian will say that from the spars he’s seen and the supporters will see that as I go on,” Ryan concluded. “There’s more to come. You’ve only seen half of me.”