June 16 is set to be one of the biggest nights in Sunderland’s recent boxing history with two of its fighting sons set to be on a stacked card at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena.
Just seven fights into his professional career, welterweight Josh Kelly takes on Kris George for the Australian’s Commonwealth title, to add to his WBA International crown picked up last time out against Carlos Molina in Cardiff.
And as well as that, Marley Pots hardman Glenn Foot looks set to be added to the Matchroom Sports and Sky Sports bill on the banks of the Tyne, with his own Commonwealth belt on the line, as well as potentially a British title.
‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly admits he is desperate to put the North East back on the boxing map, with a little help from Newcastle’s Lewis Ritson.
The 24-year-old tops the Matchroom Sports card alongside Forest Hall’s British lightweight champion, Ritson.
And having been handed the chance win the Commonwealth title on ‘home’ turf, Kelly believes footballing rivalries will be put aside this summer, with boxing domination the goal.
“It’s great to be fighting on a massive bill in the North East when you are from here. You don’t get the big opportunities that there are elsewhere, so it’s great to bring the boxing back,” said Kelly ahead of his clash with Australian belt holder George.
“Lewis and I are doing great things and I know the other North East boys on the bill are going to entertain, so I can’t wait for a big night and the first of many here.
“Boxing brings the North East together.
“I can’t see the crowd being split, the fans are going to get behind us all and big-time boxing hasn’t been up here for a while.
“I feel now it’s the time to bring it back and the Metro Radio Arena is going to go off on June 16.”
Elsewhere on the bill, Ritson aims to win the British title belt outright with victory over Paul Hyland Jnr, while South Shields fighter Anthony Nelson takes on Charlie Edwards and Darlington’s former world champion Stu Hall takes on Gavin McDonnell.
Confirming the news that Foot could be added to the card, promoter Eddie Hearn said: “Glenn has been ordered to fight Josh Leather for the British title and we are going to be actively pursuing that.”
His manager, Phil Jeffries, added: “Glenn will fight anyone.
“I am glad Glenn has won the Commonwealth.
“He deserves a big break and it would be great to get him on one these big shows.
“We will try and get that fight, if he will take it.
“Everyone in the North East could see he won that fight (when Leather got the verdict against Foot in November’s IBF European title bout).”
On Foot, Hearn added: “We had Glenn on Prizefighter and it looked like his career was over when he lost to (Sam) Eggington. But credit to him for coming back stronger.”
On the show itself, Hearn said he could not wait to see big-time boxing return to the region.
He said: “It’s fantastic to be back in the North East and this is a brilliant card from top to bottom, with five excellent title fights.
“We’re back here in a big way and I’m really excited about this bill.
“Every time you come to a place like Newcastle, you feel like the city really wants you to be here and you want big shows with the Sky Sports cameras – it feels like a Belfast or a Liverpool, it feels that the city is ready for a great night of boxing and that’s what we’ve delivered.”
* Tickets will go on sale today at noon and are available online, from the booking hotline number 0844 493 6666 or in person from the Metro Radio Arena Box Office. Venue facility and booking fees will apply.