FOUR-TIME Scottish boxing champion Emma McCulloch has quit the amateur ranks and will make her debut as a professional next month.

The Lochgelly ring star announced that she made what she described as a "tough decision" towards the end of last year and will take part in her maiden pro bout in Glenrothes on February 23.

Glenrothes Boxing Club member Emma, who was shortlisted for the Sporting Champion of the Year accolade at last year's Times Community Champion of the Year Awards, said in June that she was weighing up her future after missing out on Haringey Box Cup gold on a split decision.

That came on the back of not being selected by Boxing Scotland – whose Elite Championship women's light flyweight 48kg title she had won four times – for last April's Commonwealth Games, and suggested that it "might be time of a change in terms of tournaments".

Speaking to Times Sport, Emma confirmed that she has made made that change and will be the headline name on a card put together by her coach, Stevie McGuire, featuring another three local fighters at the Gilvenbank Hotel.

"I turned professional in November and I will make my debut on Saturday February 23," she explained.

"I've been training hard for it and I'll continue to do so up until fight night.

"It was a tough decision for me, and one that I mulled over for quite some time. I also sought advice from other people but, for me, I felt like I had done a lot as an amateur and needed a change.

"I've already competed and medalled in many amateur tournaments in Europe, and the only thing I didn't get to do in the end was box in the Commonwealth Games."

Last February, we reported that Emma was seeking answers from Boxing Scotland after discovering the "heartbreaking" news that she hadn't been nominated for selection for the Gold Coast on social media.

After missing out when the initial squad was announced – with Vicky Glover, in the 57kg weight category, being the sole female selected – Emma discovered that Commonwealth Youth Games bronze medallist, Megan Gordon, had subsequently been chosen to compete in the 45-48kg category.

Contrary to the governing body's selection policy, however, Emma was not informed of their decision and was denied the chance to lodge an appeal within three days of receiving a notification of non-nomination.

Although she subsequently held meetings with Boxing Scotland officials to resolve the issue, she turned down opportunities to box for her country at the 'Belgrade Winner' tournament and GB Three Nations Championships, and admitted the experience left her pondering whether she would be successful in making the 2022 Games in Birmingham.

"I thought about it and I could've held off until the next one – I'll be 30 – but then what if it was the same outcome as the last?," she continued.

"It was so disheartening and I don't think I'd want to go through that again and possibly not making the team.

"Now that I am pro, it has opened more doors to new opportunities and challenges, and I feel I can achieve a lot in the next few years, including title fights.

"I'm confident that Stevie will source the appropriate opponents for me as well."

The fight night at the Gilvenbank Hotel will also feature John McCallum – who will be fighting for the Celtic Light Heavyweight title – Elaine Greenan and Eftychia Kathopouli.

Tickets, which include a three-course meal, cost £60 and are available from Emma (07837118564), Stevie McGuire (07957450322) or the Gilvenbank (01592 742077).