ROBBIE BARRETT makes the first defence of his British title against Lewis Ritson as part of the undercard to Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns’ domestic clash on Saturday in Manchester, but he still admits it is surreal to be in possession of the coveted Lonsdale belt.

Barrett, 15-2-1 with 1KO, ripped the belt from Scott Cardle’s grasp by a majority decision this April in Glasgow, a result considered by most to be a shock. However, the Darfield man insists it was anything but to him and is tremendous shape heading into Saturday’s meeting with Ritson.

The 25-year-old southpaw admits that he doesn’t know much about the Newcastle man, but is confident he is more than capable of adapting and walking away with the title in his clutches, having earned it the hard way.

He told Boxing News: “It genuinely was a dream come true for me to win the British title and it was surreal looking at the rankings and seeing my name at fourth behind the likes of Terry Flanagan, Crolla and Luke Campbell who are all world class.

“But, I’ve earned this the hard way, going through and winning the Central Area and then the English, so when there was surprise that I’d won, it was anything but to me, as I was heading that way regardless. Scotty took me as a voluntary defence and you’d think someone with a top level amateur career would have seen everything and have been able to adapt at the end of the day.

“As for Ritson, I haven’t watched too much of him, I leave that to my team. There isn’t much footage of him, but I know he’s pretty much untested and been in with very limited opposition, so I’ll get a feel for him early and then we’ll go from there.

“It’s been fantastic to receive some recognition and I’m full time now, thanks to some really great sponsors and this belt isn’t going nowhere. I’ve worked too hard for it. I’ve had a taste for these big shows now and a ring is always a ring, but I want to keep experiencing this.”

Providing Barrett comes through on Saturday against the undefeated “Sandman”, he won’t be lacking in options for his next fight. However, he remains grounded and is refusing to look past his fight on Saturday.

One man who is on his radar is the hugely popular current Commonwealth title holder Sean Dodd, who retained his title on Saturday at the Echo Arena by unanimous decision in a local derby with former Team GB captain Thomas Stalker.

Barrett was full of praise for his manager and trainer Stefy Bull, who is currently enjoying a stellar year and puts the champion through his paces alongside Ray Doyle.

“I’m taking it fight-by-fight at the moment and focusing on Lewis Ritson, but there are always those times where you think what if? I’ll be honest and say I’m not solely looking at winning the British title outright because if a good opportunity comes along, I’d be taking that.

“But, I also have to admit that Commonwealth title would look lovely next to the British belt. I’d love the fight with Dodd. A couple of lads have fought him in our gym with Andy Townend beating him and Lee Appleyard losing to him, which was his own doing.

Robbie Barrett

“He was brilliant on Saturday though and it goes to show you don’t need this top amateur career to achieve things in the pro ranks. Stalker had no clue what to do with him at times, he looked shocked and Dodd was outboxing him with ease. I’ve never met him, but he seems like a diamond of a guy and I’d love to share the ring with him.

“But, it all depends what way I go with Stefy, who I couldn’t ask any more of. He 100% has his fighter’s interests at heart and he’s always available for me to speak my mind and be totally honest with me. It helps he trains me with Ray, as most fighters don’t have anywhere near the contact with their managers as me and the other lads do. He’s as good as you can get.”