The road from Elgin to Aberdeen is a well-travelled one but few arrive there via a detour to Guadalajara. It was the jolting of a first professional career defeat that ejected Fraser Wilkinson from his comfort zone and into a journey halfway across the world to a country he didn’t know and a language he couldn’t speak.

The loss of his Scottish super-welterweight title to Corey McCulloch in May weighed heavily on the Elgin-based fighter, causing him to ask searching questions about his capabilities and the viability of his nascent boxing career.

Into this period of soul-searching arrived an opportunity to head to Mexico to spar and train in a country famed for punching above its weight when it comes to producing boxers of the highest calibre. Wilkinson quickly snapped it up for what would become a life-changing, eye-opening month-long visit.

There were myriad challenges for this non-Spanish speaker in a city that is no stranger to crime and the influence of the cartel, including luggage that never arrived and numerous travel delays. For a 22 year-old from a small village, Hopeman originally, travelling alone, it could have been a troubling experience. But Wilkinson kept his mind open to the possibilities and reaped the rewards in spades.

“I had been speaking to Jamie “Jay” Robinson since last year after he came across my YouTube channel where I post my fights and things like that,” he explains. “We got chatting and ended up developing a friendship over our shared love of boxing.

“I then took my rematch in May and I wasn’t ready for it. I had lost my granny a couple of weeks before the fight and rather than acknowledging that, I thought the world would repay me for being tough-skinned and ploughing on. But I ended up losing my title which is hard for a 22 year-old to take.

“At that point I didn’t know if I was done. Maybe pro boxing wasn’t for me, especially living in Elgin where there’s limited access to better training and sparring. But Jamie mentioned he was going to Guadalajara to set up better connections there for a few months and he said I should get a flight over and I could stay with him. So that’s what I did.

“It wasn’t without its challenges. My luggage got lost and never turned up again until I got back home. So when I arrived I had to head out to buy a pair of trainers, some T-shirts, shorts and underwear, and thankfully I was able to borrow a sparring kit for the gym.

“In Guadalajara people speak about the cartel and where we stayed was pretty rough to be honest. But towards the city centre and the university there were some nice spots. I don’t speak any Spanish so I just had to try to wing it the best I could and kept my head down for most of the time.

“On the way there my flight was redirected so I got into Guadalajara at 4.30am. I managed to get myself a taxi and was trying to stay relaxed but it was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I’m not sure any of their taxis would pass an MOT over here!

“Before I turned professional I had a stint in the Royal Marines and it was a similar feeling to starting that. I just thought, “I’m here now so I need to tough it out”. And I’m glad that I did.”

Among those Wilkinson crossed paths with at the Julian Magdaleno gym was Jose “Chepo” Reynoso, the trainer and manager of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who also provided the Scot with a new nickname.

“I arrived on the Wednesday and on the Friday I sparred for six rounds with Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela who’s ranked number one in Mexico and eighth in the world at 140lbs,” he revealed. “Jamie had told me it’s like life or death the way they spar over there. A couple of them can definitely bang but they’re also a lot more technical than some people might think.

“I sparred three days a week for four weeks straight, eight or nine rounds every time. Chepo was class with me, always trying to give me tips. He kept calling me Zurdo – Spanish for southpaw - as I was the only lefty in the gym so I’m going to keep that as my nickname. He told me that his gym was my house now too and I would be welcome back any time. So I’m definitely going to take him up on that.”

Wilkinson returned to these shores a reinvigorated figure. Having relocated to Aberdeen to train with David McAllister of the Northern Sporting Club, the Kynoch Boxing athlete steps back into the ring this evening at Ardoe House eager to get his career back up and running.

“All I want from myself is to get better and David sees that,” he adds. “He’s been really hard on me in the gym but the feeling I get every day afterwards is knowing that I’ve improved. That’s what I’d been missing.

“The Mexico trip cleared my head, just getting away from everything. Before my loss I acted like I was on top of the world but I knew deep down I had done nothing in the spectrum of boxing. Now I feel like I’m back on track.”