Undefeated Aberdeen welterweight Dean Sutherland is dreaming of fighting for a major title on the pitch at Pittodrie.
A lifelong Dons fans he is determined to box for a major belt on the Dons’ hallowed turf in front of a massive home support.
He will get a taste of what boxing in a stadium for a title feels like when competing for the WBO Youth welterweight title on Saturday night.
The 22-year-old, who boasts a flawless pro record of 10 wins from 10 fights, will face face Mexican Jose Antonio Delgado Velazquez for the WBO Youth welterweight title.
The title fight will be in front of a crowd of 2,000 and broadcast live on Fightzone TV.
Sutherland hopes it is the first step towards fighting in front of 20,000 at Pittodrie.
He said: “Fighting at Pittodrie is my dream.
“I have always wanted to do that as I have always supported Aberdeen.
“I have been out on the Pittodrie pitch before and came out with the team – that’s what dreams are made of and that is what I want to accomplish.
“Hopefully this is not the only time I fight outside on a football pitch.
“Ever since I started combat sports, I have had two dreams – to fight at Pittodrie and to do it full-time.”
Studying video footage of Velazquez
Highly-rated opponent Velazquez, 23, from Salamanca, Mexico, has 10 wins and one loss.
In preparation for the biggest fight of his career to date, Sutherland has studied footage of Velazquez’ last fight, a unanimous decision defeat of Juan Carlos Ramirez Coronel in May this year.
Sutherland said: “I have watched the first three rounds and the last round of his previous fight.
“There are things I have seen that I can exploit – and I am 100 percent going to exploit them.”
Emerging from lockdown stronger
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the WBO Youth title bout will be Sutherland’s first fight since beating Basi Rasaq 59-56 at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley, on February 8 last year.
In contrast, Velazquez has fought four times in the last nine months in Mexico, registering three victories and one defeat.
A former multiple-weight world kick-boxing champion before turning to boxing, Sutherland insists he has used the lockdown and absence from the ring wisely.
He believes he has improved in every aspect of his ring craft – and aims to prove that against Velazquez to claim the WBO Youth belt.
He said: “I am a different fighter altogether and this is the best I have ever done the weight.
“This is chapter two of my boxing career and I am going to make the most of it.
“There have been a lot of changes during lockdown both negative and positive that have matured me so much as a person.
“This is where all the hard work pays of. This is the day of destiny where I pick up the belt.
“Fitness-wise, everything has gone so well.
“I have been smashing it on the bags, setting personal bests with my running times – I have turned into much more of a professional over the last 18 months.”
Move to training at Granite City ABC
Since his last fight, Sutherland has switched gyms and now trains at the Granite City ABC in Aberdeen under the guidance of coaches Davie McAllister Jr and Matty McAllister, a former Scottish pro champion.
Sutherland said: “I have changed to the Granite City gym with Davie and Matty.
“It was just going back to basics and tidying that up as I was already athletic and strong.
“Obviously I didn’t have an amateur boxing career as I did kick-boxing, so it was a case of getting back to basics.
“Also thinking about everything I do rather than just throwing and getting involved in a fight.
“I am looking for a long career and to keep that winning record.
“I am really ready for this fight.”
World ranking status also at stake
Sutherland has already secured a title having defeated Ireland’s previously undefeated Keane McMahon 78-74 to claim the vacant BUI (Boxing Union of Ireland) Celtic welterweight belt at the Aberdeen Hilton Treetops in May 2019.
In gunning for his second professional title, there re more rewards at stake than the title glory and belt – victory would catapult him into the world standings.
He said: “Beating a Mexican opponent with a really good record similar to me gives me a lot of credit.
“Winning the title would also put me into the world rankings.”
Bid for double international title joy
Granite City ABC gym-mate Billy Stuart will also fight on the bill at Hamilton.
Undefeated Stuart, 10 wins from 10, will face Mexican Alejandro Jair Gonzalez for the IBF Youth Super-Bantamweight title.
Sutherland said: “With Billy and myself both fighting for titles on the same bill, the atmosphere in the gym has been phenomenal.
“We are looking to take all that hard work we have put in over the months into the fights.”
Ready for 10 rounds or an early knock-out – either way Sutherland confident of a win
Sutherland may not have fought since February last year, but is ready to go straight into a 10-rounder in his first fight back.
He is ready to go the distance if needed and happy for an early end to the fight – either way he is confident the belt is coming to the Granite City.
Sutherland said: “I am looking forward to getting my first 10 rounds, if it goes that far.
“Personally I don’t care if it goes 30 seconds.
“I am ready for it and there is no where that belt is going other than up to Aberdeen with me.”