Muay Thai specialist Lee Mackay revealed it was an “honour” to become the first Scot to win the WBC Welterweight Celtic title.
And having seen his chance to become British champion robbed by the coronavirus pandemic, now the talented 24-year-old is taking aim at making his mark on the European stage.
Fighting in front of a raucous sold out Linwood ON-X crowd at the weekend, the Johnstone native faced experienced Irish champion Dommie Kelly.
After two hard-fought rounds Mackay piled on the pressure in the third round to seal a win via a referee stoppage.
In doing so Mackay became the first Scottish fighter to lift the Celtic title, after the previous three all lost to Irish opposition.
Now the promising puncher is hoping to step up to continental bouts and make up for lost time, having seen his career stalled by Covid-19.
Mackay told Express Sport: “I was supposed to fight for the British WBC title a few years ago, but then coronavirus hit and I missed that opportunity. That was pretty gutting.
“I had a tune up fight in December ahead of this fight and I’m absolutely delighted I managed to get the win in this one against a very, very tough opponent.
“All the Irish guys are strong fighters, but Dommie is an Irish champion at that weight and has about 30-odd fights under his belt.
“He’s a lot more experienced than me, so he was stacked in his favor but thankfully I managed to produce the goods.
“Three Scots had fought for the Celtic title before and all lost, which should have added more pressure on to me, but I put everything I had into the 12-week camp.
“Regardless of what happened, I knew I couldn’t have done any more than I had.
“Hopefully more Scots will go on to win it, but it’s an honor to be the first ever.
“It definitely helped heal the wounds from missing that British title shot and now we’ve already got European titles in our sights.”
Mackay trains in OB’s Muay Thai gym in his hometown under the tutelage of former British, European and World champion Lloyd Cochran.
Having picked up his sixth win in his tenth fight, the fireplace fitter now hopes to follow in Cochran’s footsteps as he chases his ultimate dream of becoming a full-time fighter.
Mackay said: “That was my biggest fight so far and it’s been a long road.
“At first I started Muay Thai as a fitness thing, to try and get fit because initially I was aiming to join the army.
“I tried it and just fell in love with it straight away. Having the gym in Johnstone was just an absolute bonus.
“I ended up getting a different job just so I could concentrate on Muay Thai and I’m training six days a week now.
“Lloyd is from Johnstone as well and I couldn’t ask for a better mentor.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.”