Dingwall boxer Ben Bartlett on winning first professional championship: It was a night I'll never forget
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Having manifested a chance to compete for the Scottish Championship for the best part of a year, Ben Bartlett could have been forgiven if he felt pressure to deliver when the moment finally came.
Not only were there public declarations of interest – if not demands – for such an opportunity, Bartlett also knew that a victory would make him the first boxer from Dingwall to win a professional title.
However, going into last Saturday night's bout in Glasgow against Alfie Poole, who had already tried to win the vacant championship once before, the Highland Boxing Academy athlete was the epitome of cool, calm and collected.
Plenty of hard work had gone in over the previous three months to be in the best possible condition to go and have his hand raised at the end of the night, and the "Bad Boy" duly delivered, winning 97-93 on the judges' scorecards to walk out as champion.
"I'd never felt so relaxed before a fight, so focused and switched on," the 24-year-old reflected.
"I didn't let the occasion bother me one bit. Knowing the preparation we put into the camp and how strong we were feeling mentally and physically, I think that's why I was so relaxed.
"I didn't leave any stone unturned in that whole camp. I knew I had done everything and more, so what would be would be in that ring.
"Doing all of that training obviously paid off, because I showed I was on a different level to Alfie Poole on Saturday night.
"I just established myself from round one and made it clear that I was winning every round. I went for the stoppage a few times, but my opponent had a good chin and took shots really well, so I had to box clever.
"I still landed some big shots throughout the 10 rounds, and I got the win. It was a great night for the team.
"I have to give a lot of thanks to (coach) Liam Foy, he's the one that has brought me on since I went into Highland Boxing Academy, and without him I wouldn't be the boxer I am today."
Picking up the gloves for the first time as a 17-year-old, it has been something of a meteoric rise for Bartlett.
Turning professional after just 10 amateur bouts, the newly-crowned Scottish champion won the title in just his eighth pro fight.
None of that is to say it has been an easy journey – the Dingwall native puts hours of work into his craft almost every day, and such dedication to the sport means Bartlett is not particularly surprised by the success that has followed.
"I'm doing pretty well for someone who has had less than 20 fights," he reasoned.
"To be honest, I'm not really surprised because I know how focused and dedicated I am to it. With that, I'm only going to get one thing and that is the rewards.
"Everything we've been doing in training – whether sparring or technical things – it's showing when I get in the ring, and I'm going up a level every time.
"It was a good learning curve on Saturday. There were some things I did wrong, and some things I did right, but that's boxing.
"I had a major lead in the scorecard, and I felt comfortable – like I was winning every round. I had a lot of people coming up to me after the fight, which also got fight of the night, to say it was a great performance.
"I just felt like I was on a different level, and I'm looking forward to pushing myself even further now.
"I'm glad I've got a title behind my name, and I will always be able to say I've won it. It's another stepping stone for me.
"It's good to get my first title, and to make a bit of history as the first person to win it from across the Kessock Bridge and only the second person from the whole of the Highlands.
"It went well, I boxed clever, I'm just looking forward to getting a wee bit of rest now before going back to it."
Bartlett not only delivered in the ring last weekend for himself, but also for the hoards of people who made the journey down to support him.
In itself that was no guarantee. The title bout had originally been scheduled for seven days earlier in Aberdeen before the show Bartlett was meant to be fighting on was cancelled due to injuries to other boxers.
With the change of date and venue, it was an impressive number of people who made the journey down from the Highland to back the Bad Boy, and a turnout that meant a lot to him.
"The support I had down with me was absolutely crazy," he explained.
"I've never seen or heard anything like it, so I'm very grateful to everyone who made the journey down and has been supporting my career so far. It was crazy – and funny, because after my fight was done the place basically just emptied!
"It was good, everyone from the Highlands came down to support. I walked out to a bit of hype to start off with, and all the Highlanders were ready to go for a wee scrap. It's just good that I was able to take a belt home to Dingwall at the end of it!
"It was amazing for so many guys from the club to be there. It still doesn't feel real to me to be honest.
"Everyone in the Highland Boxing Academy stable is in a good mental and physical shape, and that's all down to Liam Foy. He keeps everyone right and supporting each other, and that's the way it should be.
"That's why Highland Boxing Academy has such a strong amateur pedigree, and now I'm the first one to win a professional Scottish title.
"It was an amazing night, and it's one that I will never forget."
After such a long build-up and anticipation for his first title shot before going and winning it, Bartlett will now have to work out what the next steps are in his development.
Perhaps having seen how beneficial patience can be, he does not want to rush into anything just yet. Instead, he is happy to keep developing and seeing which opportunities present themselves.
"Now that I've ticked the Scottish title off the list, quite early in my career as well – I'm still only 24 – next for me I think is just taking it slowly going up the levels and letting title fights open up when they open up," he added.
"There's no point in rushing into anything, I'm still young and I feel like everything is going the right way at the right pace.
"I was saying all year that it was only a matter of time before I got the call to fight for the Scottish title, I just had to make sure I was ready and I showed that I was.
"I was on another level, and I knew that belt was coming home with me. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to win, my mindset was just on a different level for the fight.
"Whether it's a physical battle or mental, I always felt that this fight was going to be mine no matter what, so I'm sure that will be the case in whatever comes next too."