With her professional debut booked and less than two weeks away, UAE-based teacher Kim “Showtime” Shannon is intent on living up to her boxing moniker.
“I work hard, I train hard. I know I put the work in. So, come fight night, it is showtime,” says the former Team GB boxer ahead of her first pro bout, at 'Countdown to the Middle East Crown - Boxing Series 3', in Dubai on March 12.
“Literally. It’s a different story," she says. "You can spar all you want, you can train all you want, but it’s a different feeling when it comes to fight night.
“People pay to come see you, so you need to put on a show. I like entertaining with my boxing, with my style. It’s just one of those things: that, come fight night, it definitely will be showtime.”
Having made the move into the paid ranks late last year, Shannon will face another pro debutant, Sri Lankan Kaumini Hashini, at the Conrad Dubai hotel. The bout, part of the latest promotion by DJMC Events LLC that also features a clash for the vacant Women's International Boxing Association world super-bantam title, will take place across four rounds at 116 lbs.
Shannon, who alongside teaching physical education full-time in Al Ain also coaches boxing at Real Boxing Only gym in Al Quoz, admits to not knowing too much about her opponent.
However, from her time representing her country - Shannon was a skilled amateur in England - she recognises the boxing talent to come out of Sri Lanka. Kaumini Hashini has won five national titles.
“Sri Lankan boxers are no fools, no pushovers,” Shannon said. “So I’m never going to underestimate anyone. It’s her debut as well in the pro ranks, so I’m sure she’s going there with something to prove and wants to make a living from it as well. It’s going to be a good fight.
“I feel like the underdog; same with her probably. It’s good, I’ve got nothing really to lose. Yes, you want to make a name for yourself, but there’s no pressure on me. I’m back in the game. It’s not like I haven’t got a career out here, or my coaching’s not going well.
"It’s because I want to do it. Of course, I want to get in there and get the win, but I just want to enjoy it, enjoy what I used to do. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on her. I can just get in there, enjoy it, and make myself proud. That’s the most important thing.”
Manager Michelle Kuehn, who runs Real Boxing Only, has been working tirelessly since October to secure a fight for Shannon.
“I’m really looking forward to getting Kim in for her debut, so we can move on to the big things she will do," Kuehn said. "This is just the beginning, so I wanted to do it right for her.
"I'm very grateful to find a good local promoter in DJMC Events - Dunstan Rozairo and Roshan Nathaniel are champions of women’s boxing and boosting it in the region as well as around the world. To find a promoter like that for Kim, I never would have imagined I could get that lucky from day one. I look forward to doing many more big events with them.”
Dunstan Rozairo, chairman and managing partner DJMC Events, said: “This boxing series is all about giving boxers a fair platform to prove themselves on an even standard. We support and showcase local talent in this region alongside international boxers as well as championing female boxers.
“At DJMC Events, we stand for professionalism in the sport, fairness and equality - Series 3 is impressive, with the first female world title fight in the UAE and a WBC Asia title fight."
Shannon thanked DJMC, Real Boxing Only and her school for their support in helping her chase her boxing dream. She hopes the Kaumini Hashini encounter will provide a significant boost to the female boxing scene in the region. On March 12, three of the nine bouts are female fights.
“Hopefully I put on a good show - we both do - to show especially out in Dubai that female boxing needs to be publicised more, that it needs to be on more shows," Shannon said. "Because we can bring it as much as the guys.
"You can see it in the UK and around the world with the females: we’ve got Katie Taylor headlining a Matchroom show soon [against Amanda Serrano at Madison Square Garden on April 30] and that’s massive.
“So, let’s bring it out in the Middle East as well. We’re not big names like that at the moment, but at least for the spectators here who are paying good money to see us, let’s put a show on.”