FOR all those athletes who were left frustrated as the pandemic wiped out much of the sporting landscape, there is a smattering for whom seeing their rivals effectively frozen in time worked in their favour. Callen McAulay is in that latter camp.

Come the onset of lockdown, the Paisley boxer was still nursing an ongoing issue with a broken hand that hadn’t healed properly and also completing his electrical engineering degree at Strathclyde University. Knowing he wasn’t ready to get back into the ring was easier to accept with the knowledge that, had he been fit, there weren’t any boxing shows taking place in Scotland anyway. He wasn’t missing anything.

His degree completed, hand healed and with new contracts with Fightzone and the St Andrew’s Sporting Club tucked away in his pocket, McAulay returns to the ring at Aberdeen’s Beach Ballroom tonight like a bear emerging from a winter’s hibernation, eager to get back to action.

The undefeated southpaw (7-0) last fought in March 2019 but hopes a win over Kris Pilkington on the undercard of Dean Sutherland’s WBC international silver fight will help position him for major fights in 2022.

“I’ve feeling good and looking forward to get back into the ring,” said the 23 year-old. “I’ve not fought for two-and-a-half years because I broke my hand but Covid happening meant I wasn’t missing out on as much as would normally have been the case.

“Everyone was affected by the whole situation so it means we've all been in the same boat. I broke my hand in my last fight and it didn’t heal properly and then I broke it sparring again in the September of that year.

“At that point we knew something wasn’t right so around Christmas 2019 I went for an operation and got a rod put into my hand to straighten it up. And then four months later the rod came out so it was a long process.

“I keep training throughout it all. Not punching or sparring obviously but I was running and keeping fit generally.

“Me and a pal also did a challenge where we cycled from Renfrew to Ben Nevis, climbed it through the night, then back on the bike to Renfrew all in 24 hours. So I was always looking to keep busy.

“I also had the time to get my Masters report finished for my degree which was about 25,000 words so that was something else I was able to do during lockdown.”

McAulay is now trained in a gym at home by his dad, Grant, but will also have boxing royalty in the form of Gary Jacobs in his corner for his comeback fight.

He added: “My dad has been helping me ever since I started. He’s never boxed but he got into it just from being with me in the gym all the time. He started coaching me when I was an amateur down in Greenock and since I’ve turned pro he’s been helping me.

“I was also working with Colin Bellshaw for a while but our timings weren’t really working out unfortunately so now my dad’s my head coach.

“I’ve also been doing some extra work with Gary and it’s great that he’s going to be with me in Aberdeen.”

Should this fight all go to plan, the welterweight is hoping to move into title contention next year.

“I’ve got the Fightzone deal now as well which is massive as it puts me into a great position to fight for titles. That’s going to help take me to the next level after this one.

“I’m one of just three or four boys in Scotland who have this promotional contract and I know they’re going to push me as much as they can next year.

“This fight is just trying to get back into it after so long out but I feel I’m ready to take a step up afterwards. I’d imagine Fightzone will have a plan for me after that and I’ll just go along with that.”

Callan would like to thank his main sponsors Instyle Kitchens & Bathrooms and other backers Angelinis Pizzeria, Urban Fit, Clyde Plumbing and Cal’s Meal Prep.