WHEN she makes her ringwalk at Wembley Arena on Saturday night, Ellie Scotney will pause for a second longer than she’s used to and glance skywards for a moment.
Back at the scene of her greatest triumph as a boxer, winning the IBF super-bantamweight title, Scotney will fight for the first time in her life without her beloved nan Eileen watching on from home.
Scotney made no secret of her desire to win the world title for her nan, a cult figure on social media for her two-finger salute, and she achieved that dream in June when she beat Cherneka Johnson to claim the belt in only her seventh fight.
But on August 29, only a few weeks after that triumph, Eileen died at the age of 99 having seen her granddaughter fulfill the promise she had made.
“She’s watching from up there now,” Scotney says. “But to get it done while she was still here was amazing.
“There was a panicking stage because last year she had a hip replacement and they said they’re not sure what would happen, come back and everyone say goodbye. But we said she was like the cat with nine lives, she kept coming back. To make sure I got that world title before she passed was everything to me. It’s the biggest thing I’m grateful for.
“She was so stubborn, she waited until her 99th birthday and then 10 days later she passed. She wanted to see 100 but we can forgive her the year. She said, ‘sod Prince Charles’, she liked the Queen better.”
Before she died, Eileen had urged Scotney to ‘complete the collection now’, by adding the other three alphabet titles to her IBF one. The first defence is against experienced 37-year-old Laura Griffa, who is 20-8 and made her professional debut when Scotney was just 15 years old.
“This fight here is like a lottery ticket for her so I have to be prepared for the best version of her,” Scotney said. “She’s only ever lost at world level, she’s going to be dirty and rough but I just need to be on my game so I can show her why I am the world champion and come out victorious.
“She will come with everything and more. Everyone wants to fight for a world title and it’s in London which is where, for female boxing, everyone wants to come.
“But my mindset is still the same as always. There’s a different sort of pressure but it’s a pressure that holds the same sort of value to me. Life hasn’t changed outside of boxing, that’s for sure.”
Scotney, as it happens, knows the city like the back of her hand and might just have the most complicated route to the gym of any active ‘world’ champion in the sport.
“When I say life hasn’t changed, I mean even the journey to the gym is humbling,” she says. “I’m still getting on the bus and the train apart from during the strikes. They’ve done me.
“I used to be able to get a direct train but now I have to get a train to London Bridge then London Bridge to Cannon Street then I get off and walk to Bank then a tube to Leyton. Then I get off there and get the bus from the tube station to the gym. It’s definitely humbling – either that or stupid.”
So have the other regulars on her route from Catford to Shane McGuigan’s gym in Leyton, east London started to recognise her?
“I look like a little drug dealer from Top Boy or something with a big bag and a black eye,” she says. “But I’m getting stopped sometimes in Tesco now. I keep getting messages from people saying, ‘Oh you’re the person I nearly ran over’. In the space of a week three people have told me that so I don’t know what my road awareness is like. It’s quite worrying really.”
Now Scotney has designs on becoming a star well beyond her local supermarket and wants to cross the Atlantic in search of fights with the division’s other big stars.
“I want to box in America,” she says. “I’ve made that clear but to keep boxing in London I’m very lucky. But America is a dream of mine.
“They’re talking about Yamileth Mercado, then there’s Mayerlin Rivas and the French girl [Segolene Lefebvre] who has the WBO. They have the belts and are all solid champions and they all bring different challenges so I want to fight every single one of them.
“Now I’m the champion too, there’s a different vibe and a different pressure. In my last two fights I’ve walked first so now I’m walking second again. I fought the European champion and then the ‘world’ champion.
“Before my last fight I had to wait nine months, it was like having a baby to be honest. That whole thing built up a lot of anticipation and I was tipped to win it so I had to deliver. Now I’ve got it and I have to maintain it and show why I am the best in the division.
“This time there has been a quick turnaround, only about three months. Something I’ve lacked in my career has been momentum so to get it in the same place where I won the world title will be a key shift in my career right now.”
And if she does take care of business against the most experienced opponent of her career to date, don’t be surprised if she celebrates with a two-finger salute like her dear old nan, even if it might get pixelated by DAZN cameras.
“When she made it on the news, they blurred her fingers out,” Scotney adds. “They asked me ‘was she a bit confused?’ And I said ‘No, she meant what she meant’. They asked if they could say she meant peace, and I said ‘nah’.
“They put the picture up but her fingers were blurred, she was fuming about it to be honest – that was her trademark.
“Maybe it’s time I made it mine too.”