Josh Kelly “can’t wait” to entertain his boxing public when he fights for the first time as a pro in the North East.
And the gifted 23-year-old insists he wants to win fans and friends from all over this region when he headlines the JD NXTGEN show in Newcastle next Friday.
I can’t wait to box in my own backyard and entertain the crowdJOSH KELLY
Traditionally, Sunderland would be expected to get a rough ride when crossing the Tyne, but the fighter, from Ryhope, hopes for cheers not jeers.
Kelly, who was at the Academy of Light as a football-mad youngster, puts his 100% ring record on the line when he tackles South Shields boxer Tom Whitfield at the Walker Activity Dome.
“The support I’ve had so far, in such a short period of time, has been unreal,” said the Olympian.
“I can’t wait to box in my own backyard and entertain the crowd.
“I’m coming to win – I’m not taking Tom Whitfield for granted – but I’m looking forward to showcasing my talent.
“I know I’m a Sunderland boy and I’m fighting in Newcastle, but that tribal thing is not what I’m about.
“I want fans from everywhere – I’d love to bring the cities and towns of the North East together.
“I’d love supporters liking me for my boxing, not for where I’m from.
“I want to unite fans.”
In fact, boxing crowds are generally known for backing the fighter rather than ‘team colours’ – Newcastle stars have been supported at the Stadium of Light and Sunderland boxers cheered at the Metro Radio Arena and Lancastrian Suite.
It will be Kelly’s third contest, having turned pro earlier this year with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organisation.
He made a great start with a points win over Jay Byrne in Glasgow before following that up with his first stoppage success in Birmingham last month with a clinical KO against Spain’s Jony Vina.
Kelly v Whitfield is just one part of a belter of a bill, which features two other unbeaten Wearside boxers.
Sunderland’s Warren Baister will continue his climb up the cruiserweight ladder, while Hetton’s super-middleweight fighter, Jordan King, looks to extend his 100% sequence to nine contests.
Sedgefield’s Bradley Saunders makes his comeback from TWO broken hands, while Darlington’s Stuart Hall is also in action.
Tickets are on sale now priced £30 unreserved balcony, £40 unreserved tier, £60 reserved floor seats – tickets are available from www.matchroomboxing.com