Hannah Rankin v Ema Kozin: Scot beaten in bid to become unified light-middleweight champion

Hannah Rankin suffered a split decision loss to Ema Kozin as her second bid to become Scotland's first female unified champion ended in defeat in Manchester.

An evenly-matched fight lacked any real action from either woman, as Slovenia's Kozin produced the away win.

One scorecard read 96-94 for Rankin, while Kozin was given the nod by the other two judges.

Rankin was visibly devastated as the final scorecard was read out confirming her seventh career defeat.

Kozin improved her record to 24 wins, one loss and one draw as all-time great Claressa Shields remains the only woman to beat the 24-year-old.

For Rankin, another bid for to make history was undone by a lacklustre performance.

Thirteen months ago former WBA champion Rankin was left licking her wounds after letting her first shot at becoming unified champion slip against English challenger Terri Harper.

Rankin was expected to win that night in Nottingham against Harper, who had jumped up two weights for the contest, but instead the Scotswoman produced a flat performance, struggling to deal with the movement and accuracy of her opponent.

This time, in her promotional debut for Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions, Rankin was again expected to deliver on her long-held dream.

Kozin entered to some heavy metal, Rankin to AC/DC, and one security man at ringside confidently predicted a Rankin stoppage in four rounds.

It was not to be, however, as Rankin and Kozin took time to settle. Rankin took the centre of the ring with a commanding first round, but gave ground back to Kozin in the second despite an eye-catching uppercut.

The fight continued to be evenly matched as the fighters reached the mid-way point, with neither woman seemingly at all concerned with the other's power shots.

In truth there were hardly any thrown, although Kozin did manage to back Rankin onto the ropes in the fifth with a flurry of punches.

Rankin got herself out of trouble quickly, but in a nod to the lack of pop in her punches, Kozin engaged in some taunting of her opponent in the sixth.

The southpaw stance of Kozin might have been behind Rankin's cautious approach, but she notably stepped up the pace and volume of punches in the seventh.

Despite trying to push the pace, Rankin struggled to put a dent in Kozin, who was happy to sit back and counter the Briton.

Kozin clearly thought she was well ahead on the scorecards in the ninth round, doing a quick shuffle.

The final round arrived with Rankin potentially needing a big finish and the Scot came out swinging for the first time in the fight.

She backed Kozin onto the ropes with shots to the body and continued to hunt down the Slovenian through the round.

But Kozin remained undeterred, and when the ten-second warning arrived, the Slovenian backed away from Rankin.

Rankin was able to land the final punch and cautiously celebrated with her corner at the final bell, but it was not to be for the former world champion, as her quest to reclaim a world title goes on.