THERE hasn’t been a huge amount to be positive about in Scottish boxing over the past 12 months but the announcement recently of a tie-up between Kynoch Boxing and renowned promoter Dennis Hobson at least offers some much-needed optimism for three of the country’s rising prospects.

Sheffield-based Hobson, who worked previously with the likes of Ricky Hatton and David Haye, has signed up undefeated trio Dean Sutherland, Calvin McCord and Billy Stuart to his Fight Academy, with a view to making them the centre attraction at future shows in Scotland while also providing a platform to fight down south, too.

You don’t survive in boxing for as long as Hobson has - three decades now - without a touch of the razzamatazz, and chatter about title fights on television was unsurprisingly music to the ears of his new recruits.

Crucially in this era of uncertainty, time is on all their sides. Welterweight Sutherland has already compiled a 10-0 record but is still only 22 years old with his career stretching out in front of him and a wise head on young shoulders.

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Already a hugely popular fighter in and around his native Aberdeen, Sutherland – an electrician to trade - has returned to train in his hometown after a period working out of Dundee and is eager to embrace this latest development.

“This new deal should be massive for me going forward,” he said. “It will hopefully mean I’ll be able to plan with more certainty, knowing I’m going to have certain fights on certain dates.

“The quality of the fights being spoken about is exactly what I’ve been looking for too. I did a bit of research on Dennis and he’s been around the block a bit! And you can see he’s worked with some big names. So it’s a no-brainer to make someone like that part of your team. It can only be a good thing.”

Only three of the southpaw’s professional bouts have so far taken place in the north-east but the hope is that, once crowds are allowed to return, Hobson, in conjunction with Sutherland’s manager Sam Kynoch, will look to stage more shows in Aberdeen.

The dream scenario for the lifelong Don would be to fight for a world title at Pittodrie – or Kingsford if the club has completed their stadium flit – but for now he is content to keep his options open as he eyes up a return to the ring in the spring.

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“The route to British and Commonwealth title fights in my weight category is held up a little with final eliminators and defences,” he explained. “So we’re looking to go down the international route and then doubling back for those other belts.

“That’s probably the best option for me just now rather than just waiting and waiting. I’m young and I’ve got time on my hands to achieve my dreams so there’s no rush.

“I’m fortunate to have built up a massive fanbase in Aberdeen and Dennis is hoping to have a lot of events up here. That suits me to a tee. I’ve sold out every fight I’ve had up here with weeks to spare.

“And backed by a major promoter and hopefully fighting for major titles, I know boxing fans up here will support me in a big way.

“It’s always been a dream to fight at Pittodrie and I’ve got good connections at the club. So if that was ever an option for me then that would be incredible.”

Like most boxers, Sutherland has been inactive now for longer than at any previous point in his career, having last stepped in the ring 11 months ago to defeat Basi Razaq in Paisley.

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With gyms opening and closing throughout the pandemic, it has not been easy but he’s managed to retain a commendable level of focus throughout the uncertainty, thanks largely to the support of his psychologist.

“I’ve still been able to do all my running and I’ve got a mini-gym in my house as well,” he explained. “So there’s plenty I can do to keep my weight down and my fitness up.

“You miss the usual routine of training before and after work and there is only so much running and cycling you can do. But it’s been okay. I think because I’m still early in my career I know I just have to be patient and this will all go away soon.

“I’ve had a lot of support from my family and friends. And I’ve also benefited from working with a psychology coach for a long time now.

“He’s always emphasising looking at the upside of a situation, using positive words rather than negative ones, and trying not to get too down about things. It’s about goal setting and feeling confident and that’s made a huge difference to me.”