Hannah Rankin loses world title to Patricia Berghult on points
Hannah Rankin failed in her attempt to add the interim WBC super-welterweight title to her IBO belt after losing to Sweden's Patricia Berghult on points.
The 29-year-old Scot faced an uphill battle after being knocked down in the first flurry of punches in Malta.
Rankin recovered following a standing eight count, but it allowed her unbeaten opponent to protect her lead on the judges' scorecards.
They scored it at 96-93 94-93 95-94 for Berghult at the end of the 10 rounds.
The 25-year-old Swede, who has now won all 14 of her professional bouts, said: "I cannot believe it. Hannah is a really good, tough opponent. All respect to her."
For Rankin, who was crowned Scotland's first female world champion with a unanimous points decision over the USA's Sarah Curran in June, it was a fourth defeat in 12 fights.
Rankin looked to take the fight to her opponent from the first bell, but as she went on the offensive, she was floored by a left hook.
Berghult has a reputation for starting quickly, establishing an early dominance and then frustrating her opponents and, although the Scot recovered her composure, the Swede was keeping her at bay with a dominant jab.
Rankin came to life in the third and fourth rounds, but by the fifth, all three judges gave Berghult a comfortable lead.
The Scot responded by attempting to apply more pressure in the sixth, only to be regularly picked off, and looked to be struggling to work out her opponent in a more cagey seventh.
Despite Rankin looking increasingly frustrated, one judge had the opponents tied by the end of the eighth round.
The Swede was trapped on the ropes in the ninth, but Rankin's hopes of a telling blow were dashed as it was only the result of her opponent's slip and the referee stepped in.
Realising she was still behind, the Scot came out for the final round determined to throw more punches.
She caught her opponent with one superb right hand, but Berghult survived and matched that with some telling punches of her own as Rankin became more desperate and the Swede secured a deserved victory.