FORMER Hermitage Academy pupil Hannah Rankin admits it’s “insane” to think she could be just days away from becoming a world boxing champion.

Just 18 months after turning professional, the Luss fighter will step into the ring in Kansas this Saturday to take on the reigning IBF and WBA middleweight champion, and double Olympic gold medallist, Claressa Shields in by far the biggest test of her career so far.

The 28-year-old flew out to the US on Sunday, just hours after appearing at the Scottish Women In Sport awards, where she was nominated for the ‘sportswoman of the year’ prize.

Speaking to Chris Waddams from the Team Southpaw Jab YouTube channel before her departure, Rankin said she had “no worries” ahead of this Saturday’s fight against someone who many seasoned observers believe is the best female boxer on the planet – at any weight division.

“I respect her for what she’s achieved,” Rankin said.

“She’s a two-time Olympic gold medallist, a two-weight world champion, and I don’t come with any of that.

“But I believe in myself, I believe in my team and I’ve got a game plan.

“I’m going in there to execute this game plan, and to come back as unified middleweight champion of the world.”

The bout is Rankin’s second in the US in just a few months, following her points defeat to Alicia Napoleon in Brooklyn in August – and she admitted that the “massive” platform of live TV coverage against such a high-ranking opponent was one she was never likely to turn down.

“It’s an opportunity I was going to take with both hands,” she said.

“As a fighter, you should want to fight at the top levels, and become the best, so why not fight the best?

“The thought that I could be world champion is just insane, but it’s something that I really want, and it’s something that I truly believe I can get to.

“It would mean everything to me. And it would mean a special little bit extra to be Scotland’s first female world [boxing] champion.”

Rankin missed out to world champion shooter and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Seonaid McIntosh at Saturday’s SWIS awards in Glasgow – but said she was “so proud” to have been nominated for the prize.

Watch the full interview with Hannah Rankin at