Undefeated Aberdeen welterweight Dean Sutherland confirmed he will fight for a major title as early as his second fight after lockdown.
The 22-year-old recently penned a contract with legendary promoter Dennis Hobson who oversaw the rise of Ricky Hatton, David Haye and Clinton Woods to world title glory.
Sutherland, aka ‘Deadly’, signed up with Hobson’s Fight Academy and is ready to emerge from more than a year of ring inaction with a bang in 2021.
Boasting a flawless professional record of 10 wins from 10 fights Sutherland insists he has served his ‘apprenticeship’ and is now ready to mix it with Britain’s top welterweights.
He said: “If it is not my first fight it will be my second when you see me fighting for a major title.
“That is the target. After signing that deal with Dennis Hobson it is titles we are going for.
“I had the apprenticeship stage and obviously the lockdown didn’t help.
“However if I accepted the opportunities a year ago I might not have been right up for it.
“But when I take opportunities now I am going to grab them.”
Hobson’s Fight Academy outfit recently signed a broadcast deal with Fightzone, a new boxing channel that will showcase the best of Britain’s talent.
Sutherland said: “Dennis has so much experience and credentials behind him.
“You just have to look at the team working with him at the Fight Academy.
“It is very exciting to have such a name backing me at this stage in my career.”
Bright future for Scottish boxing
Granite City gym-mate Billy Stuart, the unbeaten super-bantamweight, also signed on with Hobson’s Fight Academy along with undefeated Ayr lightweight Calvin McCord, already a Scottish champion.
Sutherland believes Scottish boxing is on the up – with the Fight Academy trio ready to lead the way.
He said: “From now on it will not be one fight and then wait about for ages until something comes up.
“It will be fight, rest a week or two then go back into the gym for another fight.
“I will get that momentum going and hopefully Scottish boxing can thrive under this new contract with myself, Billy and Calvin.
“We have youth on our side and a lot of time.
“Scottish boxing is in a a good place at the moment.”
A former multiple weight world kick-boxing champion southpaw Sutherland is accustomed to winning major titles.
That winning mentality and hunger for success has only intensified since switching disciplines in 2018.
He has already secured a boxing belt having overcome Ireland’s previously undefeated Keane McMahon 78-74 to claim the vacant BUI (Boxing Union of Ireland) Celtic welterweight title at the Aberdeen Hilton Treetops in May, 2019.
Toe-to-toe with legend Kell Brook
Such was Sutherland’s rising reputation he was invited to spar with former world champion Kell Brook in Sheffield in early 2020.
Sutherland went toe-to-toe in two sparring with former IBF welterweight world title holder Brook at the legendary Ingle gym.
Ring legend Brook, 33, was preparing for a fight with American Mark de Luca in Sheffield on February 8 – which he won by knock-out.
Sutherland was building significant momentum – then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
He has not fought since a 59-56 points defeat of Basi Rasaq at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Paisley on February 8 last year.
The Aberdonian was scheduled to fight on a card at Turnburry Hotel last March but Covid-19 forced the show to be cancelled just days before he was set to take to the ring.
Flying in training and ready to return with a bang
During the lockdown Sutherland switched gyms and moved from Skyeaxe in Dundee to Granite City in Aberdeen where he now works under David McAllister Jnr.
McAllister Jnr, who runs Northern Sporting Club, oversees three weight Scottish champion Darren Traynor and super bantamweight title prospect Stuart amongst a talented stable of boxers.
Sutherland insists he has been ‘flying’ in training and is ready to return with a bang.
Sutherland said: “It has been a hard year as there have been no fights.
“However it has also been an exciting year as I have been able to come into a new gym and work with Davie.
“I have worked on little errors that I had been making and have corrected them whilst also sorting other aspects such as my nutrition.
“I have been flying for the last few weeks and am down to the lightest I have been for the last year.
“I feel really good and if is what is what it feels like before I even go into a fight camp then it is going to be an exciting year for me.
“As soon as there are fights ahead I am going to be back with a bang to make out for the time I have been out of the ring.”
The impact of lockdown on a professional boxer
A boxer’s life is defined by routine, morning road runs, training sessions in the gym. sparring, fight camps and then the fight.
That all disappeared last March when the nation went into lockdown, gyms were shut and boxing suspended with no indication of when it would return.
Sutherland is honest in his assessment of his experiences in lockdown and, as he is in the ring, pulls no punches in admitting that his motivation waned.
He said: “Anyone who says they were 100% motivated throughout the entire lockdown is speaking rubbish.
“When it first started I thought I would use the time to train as a full-time professional.
“I started off doing three training sessions per day and that lasted a couple of weeks.
“Then I was down to two sessions and then just one.
“Then it was just a couple of sessions a week and the motivation did go.
“It was hard, especially trying to keep up that high peak and push yourself every session when there is nothing to work for.
“Anyone who has been in this position and not been able to get a fight their motivation will have gone up and down.
“As it is not a team sport, very much individual, it is very hard to keep that motivation when there is nothing to work for.
“However when you have a packed gym and everyone is competitive that is when it is exciting.
“Just before the lockdown I was in peak condition and had just five days to go before a fight but it was cancelled.
“However everyone’s health has to come first.
“That is in the past and now I am moving on.
“Now it is likely that the boxing shows will return I am looking forward to smashing it on my runs and in the gym when everyone can be together again.
“It is exciting times.”
Charity fundraising 4x4x48 challenge
In March this year Sutherland and friend Owen Harper teamed up to complete the gruelling 4x4x48 challenge to raise funds in honour of their friend’s father.
The 4x4x48 challenge involves running four miles every four hours for a total duration of 48 hours.
They raised nearly £7,500 for charity Scottish Association for Mental Health which works in more than 60 communities with adults and young people, providing mental health social care support and services in primary care, schools and further education.
Sutherland said: “I had actually looked at doing that challenge before by myself but my friend suggested we do it to raise funds in memory of our friend’s dad.
“We set out the goal for £1,000 and once we started getting some good responses back we increased it to £2,000 and thought that would would be the maximum we would get.
“The £2,000 mark lasted 24 hours before it was broken.
“With Gift Aid the amount we raised was just shy of £7,500 which is a lot of money.
“It was mentally and physically challenging but 100% worth it. I would do it again in a heart-beat.
4x4x48 challenge complete✅
A huge thank you to everyone that came out to support us at the end, it was an incredible turnout!
The support we have got from the very first run has been amazing and we could not ask for anymore❤️
— Dean Sutherland (@Deano_Suth) March 21, 2021
“More people need to speak about mental health especially during this difficult time.
“If you are working from home, isolated and by yourself it takes a toll.
“People are missing out on that human interaction.
“Hopefully with things beginning to open up we can go in the right direction.”