Shannon Ryan is enjoying a historic night of women's boxing at The O2 on the Claressa Shields-Savannah Marshall card.
Watch Shannon Ryan fight Bucha El Quassi live on All Sports from 5 p.m. until the start of the TV coverage at 7.30 p.m.; Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall headline the night in their undisputed world middleweight title fight at The O2 in London.
Shannon Ryan never imagined she'd be helping to make history on the undercard of Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall's main event fight at The O2 on Saturday.
Ryan's sporting background includes kickboxing, and she previously worked full-time as an assistant manager at The O2 phone store. What a difference a generation makes.
Furthermore, she admits that she did not expect said 'history' to arrive as soon as 2022, as women's boxing continues to rise in quality, potential, stature, and all of the above.
"I didn't think an all-female card would happen in the UK for a long time, and to be a part of it on my third fight is incredible and makes me smile," Ryan told All Sports.
"Women's boxing was not where it is now when I started boxing in 2018, so to see such a turnaround is amazing."
Ryan is scheduled to face Spain's Bucha El Quassi in his third professional fight, following points victories over Claudia Ferenczi and Gemma Ruegg earlier this year.
Her boxing career will now be her sole focus, as she was able to leave her job at the O2 in April, allowing her the necessary rest and recovery time at the professional level. She jokes, however, that she is already accomplishing more than she could have imagined.
"I didn't realize I was so busy; I didn't think I'd be this busy; I thought I'd have a lot more time." The fact that my journey there took five years, that I'm now partnered with O2, and that I'll be fighting at the O2 on my third fight is incredible," she added.
In contrast to a life of juggling retail in Watford with her exploits in the ring, the freedom to devote her time to boxing has welcomed a clearer and seemingly more sustainable day-to-day routine.
"Depending on which weekend I needed off, I'd work 11 days straight," she explained. "Because I was assistant manager, I would come in at 8.30 a.m. and leave at 6.15 p.m."
"I'd go to the bathroom, change, drive to the gym at 7 p.m., box until about 8.30/9 p.m., get home, shower, eat if I had time, and then go to bed and repeat the process the next day."
"It's less hectic now, with more time to rest and recover."
Ryan faced an additional challenge in preparing for the fight when the original September 10 show was rescheduled for October 15 due to the Queen's death.
She recalled that it took her about two weeks to mentally reset after giving herself a recharge.
"I think it was okay for me to kind of take that on so early in my career; it was a challenge, but the weight I do right now isn't too much that I have to get off." So, in that regard, I was fine, and I get to do it all over again.
"I took it as if if an opponent pulls out, it's a lot more difficult because you have to wait for another show, whereas this one was a collective and we're all back on the same show five weeks later." It was fine for me; I get to do it all over again; it just took me a little while to mentally prepare, but I recovered quickly.
"I took a week off eating whatever I wanted and needed to, took about four days off from the gym, and then went back in."
After discovering boxing, the 25-year-old became the 2018 Alliance Boxing Champion before going on to win the 2019 Women's Winter Box Cup and silver at the 2020 London Championships.
She now aspires to the heights of Shields and Marshall as their long-running rivalry culminates in what promises to be a watershed moment in boxing.
"At the end of the day, all eyes are on them, they're making such an impact on the night and for the future," Ryan said.
Watch Shannon Ryan fight Bucha El Quassi live on All Sports from 5 p.m. until the start of the TV coverage at 7.30 p.m.