'Above and beyond' - Josh Kelly thanks Sunderland for support in emotional statement released on Instagram
Josh Kelly has thanked Sunderland for its support after suffering the first loss of his professional career last weekend.
Kelly’s dream to fight at the Stadium of Light was left in tatters after he suffered defeat for the first time since turning pro in 2017 against David Avanesyan on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old Ryhope-born boxer was stopped in the sixth round of his clash with the Russian for the European welterweight title after trainer Adam Booth threw in the towel.
Kelly, a Sunderland fan, walked to the ring at Wembley Arena in London donning red and white robes and was accompanied by a recording of Black Cats supporters chanting.
“First of all I want to thank god for helping me and David return home safe and healthy to our family’s,” Kelly posted on Instagram. "The support I’ve received not just before this fight but after has blew me away really has some of the messages and phones calls have been so deep.
"When set backs happen in your life it shows who’s really there for you and on your side through thick or thin and this has shown me how many people care for me as a person not just a boxer.
"The support from around the country and the world has been another level but the support from Sunderland has been above and beyond and I’m truly proud to come from such a strong small city what shows it’s hard character again and again.
"I gave it my all in there Saturday another experience I take on this journey in life beat by a better man on the night and that’s that.