It is just over four years since a relaxed Rhiannon Dixon sauntered to the ring at Bolton’s White Hotel, bringing to an end her seven-fight white collar career and entering the world of professional boxing.

It took the full-time pharmacist and former podium dancer less than 30 seconds to make her mark as she dropped Vaida Masiokaite with a right hook. 

The fast start was a sign of things to come. From the white-collar scene to the professional circuit and from small hall venues to televised arena shows, Dixon took every step up in her stride and progressed quietly but quickly while fighters like Katie Taylor, Natasha Jonas and Terri Harper elevated women’s boxing to its current lofty position. 

Last year, Dixon positioned herself in behind the country's leading lightweights. Firstly, the southpaw stopped Vicky Wilkinson to win the Commonwealth title and then-shut out former world title challenger, Katharina Thanderz, to win the European belt. 

The ambitious approach has paid off. Dixon, 9-0 (1 KO), is now a full-time fighter and world-class lightweight and next Saturday she fights Argentina’s Karen Elizabeth Carabajal for the WBO world title belt recently vacated by former undisputed champion Katie Taylor.

Dixon’s rapid progress means that she hasn’t had the time to fully establish herself at title level but moving quickly has also prevented her from growing stagnant or complacent while waiting for the next opportunity to present itself. 

“It feels like it’s a natural progression,” the 28-year-old from Warrington told BoxingScene.

“With the Commonwealth, I thought, ‘Wow, this is my first title’ and I feel like I might have been more nervous for that one than the European and world title fights. I was wondering if I was really going to be good enough because I felt like all my performances before that weren’t up to the standard of what I consider to be good and of what I know I can do in the gym. After that one, the ball dropped. 

“Every fight now is just a test and I’ve been passing them all with flying colours.”

Even in the accelerated world of women’s boxing, being crowned world champion just ten fights after leaving behind the world of white collar fighting would be a remarkable achievement but the amiable Dixon isn’t the type to allow the occasion to weigh too heavily on her shoulders.  

Eighteen months ago, Carabajal, 22-1 (3 KOs), took Taylor the distance and the Argentine promises to provide Dixon with the toughest test of her career but rather than agonising over what may or may not happen in the ring, Dixon has learned to trust the work she puts in in the gym with her trainer - former world lightweight champion Anthony Crolla - and enjoy the night.

“We’ve been watching her ever since her name got put forward to us. Since then, it’s been tailoring things towards her so she’s been on my mind since then,” she said. “I don’t really think too much about fight night, though. I think it’s usually only the night before. Me and Ross [her partner] always say in bed, ‘Tomorrow’s gonna be the best night of your life’ and I go to sleep excited. So far, it’s always ended up being that way. Some boxers say the Sunday after is like Christmas but for me it’s the feeling of being in the ring. That’s my Christmas now.”

Lots of people use boxing as a way of staying fit. A small number get enough of a taste for the sport to train for a white collar fight. A tiny percentage of those translate that into a professional career. Barely any will ever come anywhere near fighting for a world title. 

For the first few years of her career, Dixon combined her love of boxing with her job as pharmacist at Whiston Hospital and quite a few of her former work colleagues will be in attendance at the AO Arena next Saturday night (April 13). Her journey has been so smooth and drama free that she doesn’t believe that the harsh realities of what she now does for a living or the scale of what she might accomplish have sunk in with her former workmates yet.

“I think it’s still not quite dawned on them,” she laughed.

“I think it’s because being a pharmacist is such a profession that you might not think somebody would leave to go and do a sport. I don’t think they probably really know what it means. I think they probably think, ‘Oh, Rhiannon’s fighting on the weekend. Oh, it’s for a world title? OK.’ I’m not sure they understand the magnitude of it but to be honest I do try and play it down. It’s probably my fault."

A lot of things will change if Dixon’s arm is raised when the words, ‘And the new’ ring out on Saturday night. Dixon won’t be able to downplay her achievements any longer. She will suddenly become a major player in one of women’s boxing’s banner divisions and join her idol and still unified champion, Taylor, as a world champion. 

“It’s crazy. I alway see people calling me a dark horse on twitter. There are girls I look up to like Katie Taylor and people like that who have world titles. When I win this one, some girls might start looking up to me like that. I start thinking about whether I’ll be taking on the responsibility of being a role model? Coming from where I’ve come from, I think I’m suited to it.”