Josh Kelly is the last man standing

Josh Kelly.

Josh Kelly.

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ENGLAND prospect Josh Kelly has progressed to the next round of the Senior ABA Championships while fellow boxers across the city have fallen by the wayside.

The Houghton ABC fighter beat Middlesbrough’s Tab Simamane over three rounds at the Rainton Meadows Arena to qualify for the pre-quarter finals of the famous national tournament.

Kelly, who turned 19 earlier this month, was on the front foot for the first two rounds and then, having built up a large lead, eased his way down through the third, taking Simamane’s punches on his arms and gloves.

The Sunderland teenager won the bout on the scorecards of all five judges, but his father, boxing coach Paul, said: “I was a little worried simply because that’s not usually Josh’s style of fighting.

“Normally he’ll go all out for the three rounds, but since he has linked up with England, the national side have been coaching him to look to produce his best boxing in the opening couple of rounds and then if he has a big enough lead going into the third, to look to protect that.

“That’s what he did and I thought he won the fight quite comfortably.

“He was using his defensive abilities in the third round to make sure his opponent’s shots weren’t scoring.

“But it does make you a bit nervy because you can never tell how the judges are going to see it.

“Thankfully they all saw the same fight and scored it accordingly, but this new style is not for the faint-hearted when you’re in Josh’s corner!”

Having won the Tyne, Tees and Wear final, Kelly of Barnes in Sunderland, will now fight Ryan Mulkay of Everton Red Triangle in the next round this Friday, again at the Rainton Meadows Arena.

His fellow Wearside boxers were not quite so lucky.

Lambton Street’s Warren Cassop lost on points to South Durham’s Declan Fulso, while Plains Farm’s Michael Laws lost on points to Middlesbrough’s Peter Martin and Kevin Nelson, also of Plains Farm, was unable to make the weight and had to pull out.

For Kelly, last Friday’s fight was his third inside 11 days and later this week he will make it four in 18 days when he returns to the Rainton Meadows for a full amateur boxing night which will pitch the North East against the North West ahead of national quarter finals.