A new year brings fresh opportunity and renewed optimism for Dean Sutherland. The Aberdeen super-welterweight fought twice in 2023 and won both times but what ought to have been a bounce-back 12 months following a first career loss late in 2022 instead turned out to be a period where frustration became the prevalent emotion.

A nagging shoulder injury burdened the former WBC International Silver champion to the point that he had little choice but to seek medical help. Rest rather than surgery was the doctor’s diagnosis and the hope now is that lay-off has proved restorative as he enters 2024 with high hopes.

A tune-up fight at Ardoe House in his hometown on February 10 will hopefully pave the way for bigger bouts throughout the year as the Kynoch Boxing fighter eyes up the chance to move back into title contention. 

“I’d say 2023 was a really difficult year but one that I’ve learned loads from,” he admits. “I picked up an injury late in 2022 and, due to my own stubbornness, I decided I wanted to get back out and fight again as quickly as possible. 

“I made it worse fighting in Glasgow in February and then, later in the year, when I was training it just got really uncomfortable. Before every boxing session I was having to take paracetamol or Deep Heat, and icing it afterwards. 

“The shoulder was still giving me a lot of bother so after my fight in June I decided to get it looked at. The good news was that I didn’t need surgery but the bad news was that I had to rest for the rest of the year. So it was a difficult year when you’re trying to build a bit of momentum.

“But the injury seems to have almost entirely healed up. It’s been a wear and tear thing as I’ve been doing combat sports for more than 20 years but I’ve got specific exercises I need to do and I should be fine going forward. 

“This year I just want to be as busy as possible. I want to push towards big fights again and potentially get into the spotlight of the bigger televised promotions and get my name out there a bit more.

“I’m looking forward to a big performance on February 10 in Aberdeen and we’ve got a plan for a potential title fight not long after that should everything go okay. So there’s a lot to look forward to.”

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To help with those aims, Sutherland (15-1) has chosen to base himself in London for large parts of the year, partnering up with trainer Barry Healy at the Churchill’s Gym in Lambeth. Whether it ends up being a permanent move will depend on how things unfold, but the 25 year-old is willing to throw everything at it in the hope of taking his career to the next level.

“I’m going to do most of my training camps down here for the foreseeable future,” confirms the Dons diehard. “I first came down last year and absolutely loved it, the whole atmosphere and the levels of sparring and gyms that you were going to. 

“The big thing for me was that I was always having serious problems getting sparring partners [in Aberdeen]. It made more sense to bring myself to where the sparring is, rather than travelling all the time. 

“Whether I end up making the full-time will really depend on what stage my career is at. When I’m still fighting mostly in Aberdeen it makes sense to still be around there, seeing friends and family. But I’m keen to push on and get on more TV shows so if that means moving down here permanently that might be the right call at that time.”

Sutherland suffered the first bump in an otherwise blemish-free professional career in November 2022 when he was stopped by Louis Greene in the fifth round of their Commonwealth title fight at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom. 

It was an undoubted blow to the one-time WBO youth world champion but he hopes that the pain of disappointment endured that night will serve him well the next time he steps into a ring with a title on the line.

“Everything had gone perfectly in the build-up but then on fight night almost nothing went right,” he admits honestly. “I got my tactics wrong and the things I was doing well, I just didn’t do enough of. 

“But I’ve learned the lessons from that night and I would definitely take that fight again. A rematch is something that Barry and Sam, my manager, have spoken about and if there was a chance to resolve that loss then that is something I would be up for.

“I’m still young with loads of ambition but have picked up titles already and have a lot of experience under my belt. But there’s plenty more yet that I want to achieve and this year can be the start of it. I can’t let these opportunities pass me by.”