Rachel Ball’s sights are set on glory as she steps up recovery

Rachel Ball has her eyes firmly fixed on world title glory despite her Covid struggles forcing her to pull out of her latest bout.

Rachel Ball
Rachel Ball

The Aldridge fighter was all set to for a highly anticipated rematch with Shannon Courtenay tomorrow for the vacant WBA bantamweight world title, having already beaten her in August last year.

Following that first fight Ball was set to face Ebanie Bridges for the strap before the Australian picked up an arm injury and pulled out. Short notice replacement Jorgelina Guanini then had issues with her weight and the pair ended up fighting for the WBC interim super-bantamweight world title – which Ball won convincingly.

With the full WBA bantamweight crown finally within reach with the Courtenay rematch it was snatched away again when Ball contracted Covid on January 7, and then struggled with the effects of the disease up until she had to withdraw from the fight last month.

“I remember it so vividly because of the impact it’s had on me. When I woke up, I just felt like I’d over trained because I was really sore,” Ball said.

“I was having a rest day anyway, but I was out with the dog in the evening and started to have a bad cough and that continued into the night and the morning after.

“On the 8th, my test came back positive but I still wasn’t feeling too bad – I thought I’d be able to bounce back from it. But it was when I tried to start exercising from home that it wiped me off my feet.

“Even after just a small amount of exercise it was the headaches and fatigue that really got me worried. That continued for a while. The headaches are the most debilitating thing because it’s hard to explain, but they can just be so bad and leave me feeling unable to move from the sofa.

“Unfortunately it’s exacerbated by exercise so the one thing I would love to be doing is the one thing that’s making me feel worse.”

Although Ball is an athlete fighting at the elite level the effects of Covid are still weighing heavy. She is targetting a return to the ring in July, but as she aims to get back to her best it is still uncertain if that will be possible.

Ball added: “It was hard to pull out of the fight and I was expecting a lot of negativity, if I’m honest, but myself and Gav (Burrows, Ball’s coach) know we’re a long way off being able to get in the ring so it’s what we had to do.

“I’m getting better at knowing what I can and can’t do whilst it’s still lingering in the background. I’m trying to do everything I can to get into a position where we can start looking towards getting back in the ring.”

Bridges has now stepped in to face Courtenay for the title on Saturday night.

Ball will be watching on with the knowledge that both Bridges and Courtenay have publicly said they want to fight her if they win and for the Black Country boxer the title bout is her only goal.

“It will be a little bittersweet, but I am really, really looking forward to it,” she said.

“I want people to be talking about it and getting excited about the fight because then they can be excited when I’m back fighting the winner.

“I’ve thought about who wins an awful lot because we know upsets happen – as was the case when I beat Shannon – and obviously people don’t know much about Ebanie.

“She could pull off the shock and we’ll all enjoy watching it, or she won’t live up to that fighter we see on her social media and it’ll be a bit disappointing.

“I’ve never taken any area of life for granted, especially not in boxing, and that’s not something that’s going to change after this. I’m sure I’ll probably be chucked in the deep end when I return but that’s okay, I can swim, I’m a good swimmer and I look forward to it.

“I’ve got to wait a little while longer before I can get my hands on the title, but I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait.”

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