IT’S clear from Dean Sutherland’s rapid progress through the ranks that he thrives on pressure. 

Still only eleven fights into his professional career, the welterweight has already picked up the BUI Celtic belt as well as, in his most recent outing, the WBO Youth title. 

He may still be only 23 but he is in a rush to pick up further accolades, beginning tonight in his home city of Aberdeen, where he will take on Michele Esposito for the vacant WBC International Silver Welter title. 

Sutherland has already shown his mettle, and remains unbeaten in his pro career, but he is well aware that complacency must not set in tonight. 

Esposito will be no walkover for the Aberdonian; the 35-year-old has lost only once in his pro career and has previously been Italian champion but Sutherland, who has been touted as a rising star of the Scottish boxing scene, is unfazed about what is likely to be the toughest test of his still fledgling career. 

“I do think that on paper and stylistically, this could be a very tough fight for me because he likes to come forward and he has a very high work rate,” Sutherland says. 

“But I believe that on boxing ability and with my agility, I’ll be able to give him a bit of a boxing lesson. He’s been Italian champion which is a big thing but I think I’ll be another step up for him.  

“It’s definitely good to have another belt on the line too. It’s been good to have something to visualise when I’m training.” 

This will be only his second competitive appearance in 21 months due to the pandemic and with his fight in July boasting only a modest crowd, Sutherland cannot wait to be back fighting in the kind of atmosphere he loves. 

“I can’t wait to fight in Aberdeen, the support I’ve had has been unbelievable. I’ve had so much interest in tickets, I don’t have enough for everyone.  

“It’s a good problem to have though and it’s brilliant to get that support when you’re in your home city,” he says. 

“I like that pressure – some people can’t handle it because they get too invested in the crowd but for me, it’s going to be a huge benefit.  

I thrive under that pressure and having the spotlight on me so on the night, I just need to do what I’ve been doing in training.” 

Sutherland remains somewhat of a novice in the pro boxing ranks; having transitioned over from kickboxing, in which he was world amateur champion less than four years ago, he admits he is far from the finished article as a boxer. However, there can be little doubting his commitment to reaching the top.  

Glasgow Times: Sutherland is currently BUI Celtic & WBO Youth champSutherland is currently BUI Celtic & WBO Youth champ

As a full-time electrician, Sutherland rises at 4:15am every morning to get a session in before heading to work, with another workout in the evening. His recent birthday celebrations were spent not in a pub but instead, playing board games at home.  

Far from resenting the sacrifices though, Sutherland is happy to dedicate his life to reaching the very top. 

It is why he spent only fleeting moments celebrating his world youth title before turning his attention to what was next. 

If he emerges victorious in Aberdeen tonight, he will waste no time in moving to the next level. 

He is keen to squeeze in four fights next year but before that, he will be heading down to Manchester to spar with his compatriot Josh Taylor’s next opponent, Jack Catterill ahead of their world title bout in February. 

Far from making the trip to help the Englishman though, Sutherland will be using the opportunity continue his progress in order to make sure that next year sees more titles headed his way. 

“I’m not going down there to help Jack Caterill, I’m going down there to get the benefits for myself,” he says.  

“This is a great opportunity for me and anyway. I think Josh Taylor will beat him. 

“I haven’t put a time limit on when I want to achieve most things, the only thing is I’d like to fight for the British title within the next two years, that’s something I would like to win on my journey. 

“And in the future, I’ll be fighting for the world title.”