SUNDERLAND boxer Josh Kelly is coming to terms with double disappointment after a cut eye prevented him from contesting the final of one tournament and ruled him out of another.
The 19-year-old was looking to make big progress in his amateur career this month as he contemplated fighting in southern and then northern Europe by the end of November.
He flew out to Macedonia just over a fortnight ago as part of a Great Britain senior squad competing against the cream of Europe’s young boxers in the annual Golden Gong tournament.
And this week he planned to be jetting off to Finland to take part in the internationally-prestigious Tammer Tournament, which features the best amateur boxers from across the world.
Kelly had done well just to make the Tammer squad and hoped it would be a November to remember.
But injury has stopped him in his tracks just as looked to be kicking on.
The ex-St Aidan’s school pupil, who lives in High Barnes, did well in the Golden Gong to beat home-grown boxer Saso Leskarcski.
Kelly was the unanimous winner on all the judges’ scorecards and was due to contest the final the next day – he was also voted the best winning boxer of the semi-finals. But the teenager sustained a cut above his left eye from a clash of heads with the Macedonian in the penultimate round which needed glueing back together.
And the advice of the GB team coach was to withdraw from the final in order to stand a better chance of competing in the more important tournament in Finland.
Kelly reluctantly did that, but a medical at GB headquarters on the eve of the Tammer Tournament has now revealled the cut has not healed enough for him to box yet.
Kelly’s dad, Paul, who works as a coach at Houghton Boxing Club – where Komatsu apprentice Josh trains when he is back in the North East – said: “Josh is understandably gutted. He was really looking forward to both tournaments.
“He was disappointed to miss out on the final in Macedonia because he really fancied his chances and then to miss out on the Tammer is a double disappointment.
“But he’s a sensible lad and knows he has to take the doctor’s advice – now it’s just a case of waiting for the cut to heal and then going again.”
Long-term, Kelly hopes to be in contention for selection for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Dad Paul told the Echo: “He is continuing to progress and the Great Britain coaches are pleased with the way he is coming on.”