Rising Sunderland star Josh Kelly won't let great expectation weigh heavy on his shoulders
Josh Kelly admits he feels there's an expectation that he can carry North East boxing on to another level.
But the Sunderland welterweight will not let that responsibility weigh heavy on his shoulders.
Kelly returns to action next month when he co-headlines a massive Matchroom Sports fight night at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, alongside Tyneside sensation Lewis Ritson.
The 24-year-old takes on Kris George for the Australian’s Commonwealth welterweight strap in just his seventh fight as a professional.
Last time out, he schooled experienced former world champion Carlos Molina, 10 years and 24 bouts his senior, to claim a fringe vacant WBA international title.
And Kelly knows, in front of his own supporters, he must produce the goods on June 16.
“I feel as though I have a responsibility to represent not only myself but also the North East,” said Kelly, from Ryhope.
“The element of boxing in the North East has been missing for some time.
“And to bring it back up with the likes of Lewis Ritson, Glenn Foot and Stu Hall – all on this card – it is another level.
“On June 16, I am sure the stadium will be packed and all the fans will see a great night.”
As well as Forest Hall’s Ritson’s attempt to win the lightweight Lonsdale belt outright and Kelly’s Commonwealth ambitions, South Shields’ Anthony Nelson will take on Charlie Edwards, after making a successful ring return at Temple Park Lesiure Centre in his hometown last week.
Darlington’s Stu Hall takes on Gavin McDonnell for the WBC International super-bantamweight title, while Marley Pots’ Glenn Foot is also likely to be added to the bill.
Foot could come in to do a six-rounder on the undercard, should show promoter Eddie Hearn fail with his bids to get the Sunderland light-welterweight’s British title clash against Josh Leather – a rematch after their controversial November bout – on the card.
Blackpool’s Adam Little has been put forward as a potential opponent for Foot.
Leather has been named as Ohara Davies’ opponent on June 23, which throws the prospect of a Foot rematch into serious doubt.