Josh Kelly says he is fit enough to box for a title as he prepares to break new ground in front of the North East sporting public.
The Sunderland boxer will fight over eight rounds this Friday when he meets neighbour Tom Whitfield in Newcastle.
Kelly v Whitfield is the headline act on the Sky Sports-screened JD NXTGEN show at the Walker Sports Dome.
New professionals rarely go beyond four rounders in their formative days, but the 23-year-old is scheduled to do eight against his South Shields opponent.
However, before Whitfield starts getting excited thinking the distance could be an Achilles heel, Kelly says think again.
“Eight rounds?”laughed Kelly. “No problem, I’ve been training like a 12-round fighter.”
Kelly’s incredible physique has been honed in the Surrey gym of top trainer Adam Booth ...and out of it.
When the Echo caught up with Kelly, he was at the track.
“I have to do 10 400 metre sprints,” he said. “I can’t begin to describe how fit and strong I feel.
“I can’t wait for Friday to take all I have done into the ring.
“I want to showcase what I’ve learned from Adam Booth.
“Tom is a good boxer and I would like to get in the eight rounds.”
But Kelly’s track work, good though it is, does not mean he will be challenging Martyn Rooney on the athletics circuit – it has not been at the neglect of the gym.
“I’ve been sparring with [British welterweight champion] Bradley Skeete,” said the 2016 Olympian.
“The other day, I did 10 rounds with him with just 30 second intervals. I feel so good.
“To be boxing in the region is special and I’m ready to show what I can do.”
Kelly is not the only Wearsider that Eddie Hearn has employed this Friday, with unbeaten duo Warren Baister and Jordan King in action.
Two other top North East names are also fighting out of the home corner, Stuart Hall and Bradley Saunders.
Tickets are on sale now, priced £30 unreserved balcony, £40 unreserved tier, £60 reserved floor seats – tickets are available from www.matchroomboxing.com