Josh Kelly has waited four years to box in the North East again – and when he did, it lasted only 79 seconds.
Topping the bill on the JD NXTGEN show in Newcastle last night, the 23-year-old knocked out Tom Whitfield in a ruthless first round stoppage.
The unbeaten Sunderland boxer jolted the head back of the South Shields boxer with a left, forcing his opponent back towards the ropes.
Red-hot Kelly then rained eight left hooks into the head of Whitfield, who fell to the canvas.
The 30-year-old looked like trying to get up when referee Graeme Williams reached eight, but could not move, with the Billingham official counting him out at the Walker Activity Dome.
It took Kelly to three straight wins since turning pro, his second triumph inside the distance.
“Tom was trying to pour his jab out but I was making him miss and from then on I knew I had the range and the timing,” said the Wearsider.
“I’d tried to snap out the right, but felt something go in my elbow, so I never threw it again.
“But when I felt his head snap back with a jab I got him with a left hook and he tried to cover up.
“I couldn’t throw a right, so I let the left hooks go and Tom went down.”
“I had every intention of doing the eight rounds. I had trained as though it was a 12-rounder, I want to be a championship fighter as soon as I can so I wanted to do the longer distance.
“But the opportunity was there and I took it.”
Kelly was thrilled with the reception he received at the Tyneside venue.
“It was brilliant to box here,” said the Eddie Hearn boxer. “It was nice to box in front of my family and friends.
“I don’t like to refer to the people watching as fans, I prefer to call them friends and I hope I’ve made some more friends.”
Whitfield, who became a dad for the fourth time this week following the birth of his first son, Jaxon, was distraught to have lost the eagerly-anticipated derby.
But the South Shields team heaped praise on the winning fighter.
“Josh is a world-class kid – we were beaten by a quicker and better man,” said coach Mal Gates. “But Tom will be back, no doubt about it.”