WHEN fighter Joe Pigford makes his ring return under SK4 Promotions in Luxembourg on Saturday, it will put an end to a 736-day wait.

The Southampton boxer still holds an undefeated professional record, with 15 of his 16 victories coming inside the scheduled distance.

But having had to wait it out for so long under Poole-based trainer Kev Thorniley due to the coronavirus pandemic – The Pig is finally set to be unleashed, in Luxembourg in all places.

Pigford, along with SK4 fighters Lee Cutler and Jack Simpson, will be flying across the continent to compete in Dudelange on Saturday.

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(Picture: Tim Churchill)

It is the start of a fresh chapter for the 28-year-old, who is scheduled to take on Bosnian Jovica Jovanovic.

Pigford was previously promoted by Frank Warren and then trained by Ricky Hatton, but made the move back down south to spend more time at home with his daughter.

Now under the watch of coach Thorniley and promoter Steve Bendall, as part of SK4, the talented super-welterweight is described as “flying in the gym” on Ashley Road.

“It’s great having Joe. I have never seen Joe so happy,” said Thorniley, ahead of his stable’s trip overseas.

“He literally said himself ‘I don’t think I have been as happy boxing as right now’.

“It’s a case of getting Joe back firing. He has had two years out.

“He’s been training with me for about a year and we have done a lot together. I have known him a long time and we’ve done plenty of sparring and lots of training.

“When he first came over, it was in all honesty because he wanted to be back home this way. We gelled well.

“His tail’s right up and he’s absolutely flying in the gym at the moment. It will be wicked just to see him.”

One of Pigford’s biggest wins came in May 2017 when he stopped then unbeaten Aaron Morgan inside five rounds at the Copper Box Arena.

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In an interview with Boxing Social last summer, the south coast star admitted he thought that would have been his big moment.

He said: “I hoped that would have been my breakout.

“I had that time out, I moved up to Manchester and got on well with everyone up there. I thought the training was good up there.

“I had three fights when I was up there, then I had a little girl with my missus, and I didn’t want to be away from my little girl. In Manchester, it was training, training, training with no definite fight coming up. I could be up there for two months and still not have a fight.

“I’d rather spend time with my daughter growing up. I moved back home and I’m back in Bournemouth with Steve Bendall and Kev Thorniley and I’m enjoying it.”

Thorniley added: “Joe’s biggest regret to this point in his career is the stop-starting. He does feel like he’s had a few tough breaks.

“Now he’s said he really has got a buzz for it again, it’s a case of getting him out.

“With Joe it’s all a case of staying regular now. No stopping, building up, taking the right fights.”