The raised stakes and opposition level were not of any concern to Rhiannon Dixon.
A world class boxing display was turned in by the fighting pharmacist, who is now a threat in an already stacked lightweight division. Dixon effortlessly prevailed in a ten-round decision victory over Katharina Thanderz in their EBU lightweight title fight Saturday on DAZN from OVO Arena Wembley in London.
Scores were 100-90 across the board for Dixon (9-0, 1KO), who is trained by former WBA lightweight titlist Anthony Crolla.
The crossroads bout saw Dixon put her superior skillset to immediate use versus Thanderz, a former title challenger from Spain by way of Oslo, Norway. The southpaw jab set up straight left hands and body shots for the 28-year-old Cheshire native, who rarely caught any damage in return.
Thanderz (16-2, 2KOs) entered the fight best known for her challenge of then-unbeaten WBC junior lightweight tltlist Terri Harper, who scored a ninth-round stoppage in their November 2020 meeting at this very venue. The 35-year-old Norweigan won three in a row ahead of this meeting, all in eight-round affairs versus lesser opposition.
Dixon was on a far different level, though she reached a point where she abandoned a body attack and focused squarely on landing heavy leather upstairs. Thanderz took the punches well but also shut down her own offense to defend against the incoming shots.
A right hook landed squarely for Dixon at the start of round nine. Thanderz tried to respond but was kept at bay by her opponent’s long jab any time she came forward. Dixon bounced on her toes and positioned herself to land a straight left hand late in the round.
Thanderz was well down heading into the final two minutes and braved an onslaught from Dixon to get off her own chopping right hands at close quarters. Dixon returned to the body and dug a left hand before coming up top with a right hook. Thanderz tried to respond but was consistently beaten to the punch until the final bell.
Dixon advanced to 9-0 (1KO) as she went the ten-round distance for the first time in her promising career. It came on the heels of her lone victory inside the distance, a sixth-round stoppage of unbeaten Vicky Wilkinson on March 11 in Liverpool.
Also on the show, former amateur standout Jimmy Sains enjoyed a successful pro debut with a third-round stoppage of Poland’s Bartlomiej Stryczek (1-1, 0KOs). No knockdowns were scored but the Tony Sims-trained Sains (1-0, 1KO) bloodied the nose of Stryczek in round two and unloaded a barrage of punches before referee Bob Williams stopped the bout at 1:20 of round three.
Headlining the show, lineal and IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17KOs) defends versus unbeaten challenger Jordan Thompson (15-0, 12KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox