Hardy to fight Surtees at Stadium of Light

Darren Surtees with Phil Jeffries.

Darren Surtees with Phil Jeffries.

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East Durham is ready to rumble after two neighbours and pals agreed to put friendship aside to fight for the Northern Area title.

Horden boxer Anth Hardy has accepted the challenge to try to wrest the light-welterweight belt from Thornley big-hitter Darren Surtees.

The pair will fight at the annual Summer Rumble at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, July 16.

It promises to be some contest between two talented and ambitious opponents.

Surtees will be making the maiden defence of his crown having stopped Middlesbrough’s Ross Jameson when the North East rivals met last month at Houghton for the vacant title.

The 22-year-old is a man in form, having reeled off seven straight wins, five coming inside the distance.

And while Hardy cannot compete with those stoppage stats, his record is an impressive one of nine wins from 11 bouts – suffering his only two defeats at championship level.

Promoter Phil Jeffries says he is excited already – and the showdown is still a month away.

“I’m over the moon to have put this together,” said the Wearside fight figure.

“It’s a great fight, no doubt about it. I wasn’t sure to be honest when I put the idea out there how everyone would react.

“I know the two lads are friends and the two coaches get on like a house on fire.

“They can still be friends before the bout and again after the fight is over – what happens in between is simply business.

“This is an absolutely brilliant contest – you’ve got Darren who has clocked up KO after KO at the Rainton Meadows Arena, this kid is exciting. In the other corner you’ve got a very good boxer and southpaw, Anth’s got a lot of class.

“I must take my hat off to Darren’s coach, Dave Binns, and Peter Cope, trainer of Anth. It was a very easy match to make and I can’t wait to see it.”

Jeffries promoted a Northern Area title classic last December at Houghton, where his boxer, the unbeaten Lewis Ritson, knocked out Hartlepool’s Jordan Ellison, Hardy’s Gus Robinson Developments team-mate, in the seventh round.

“If it’s anything like that fight we’re in for a cracker,” said Jeffries. “I always want to put derbies on because that’s what the fans want to see – 50-50 fights.

“There is a lot at stake, but why shouldn’t two very good boxers fight each other? Isn’t that the way we want our sport to be? Too often people spend too much time avoiding each other.”