Jordan Pickford watches as Josh Kelly wins to set up fight with Newcastle fan Troy Williamson

Sunderland’s Josh Kelly outpointed Argentina’s Lucas Bastida at the Vertu Motors Arena to set up a potential British title fight with Newcastle United supporter Troy Williamson.

Sunday, 31st July 2022, 12:37 am

The contest marked Kelly’s second bout on the comeback trail following a crushing sixth-round knockout defeat to David Avanesyan for the European title at welterweight 17 months ago.

Following the loss, Ryhope-born Kelly moved up to super-welterweight, returning against Pater Kramer earlier this year and scoring a technical knockout win.

The 28-year-old walked to the ring to the tune of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley in a light-hearted nod towards his previous mental health issues in front of a Sunderland supporting crowd given his Wearside heritage.

Josh Kelly.

Chants of “Sunderland take over everywhere they go” and “Josh Kelly, he’s one of our own” were sung with gusto throughout the course of the undercard but ramped up a notch for the main event, which was shown live on Channel 5.

Washington-born England and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford – who came through the youth ranks at Sunderland before breaking into the first team – was also in attendance to watch his fellow Mackem in action.

Kelly started the fight the brighter and did enough to keep Bastida at bay throughout the 10 rounds to win the WBO International title with his superior jab and head movement.

Although the fight lacked in entertainment value and failed to burst into life, Kelly boxed well and did his job to win on the scorecards via a majority decision. The Echo scored the fight 98-92 (eight rounds to two) in Kelly’s favour.

Kelly’s win sets up a fight with Darlington-born Troy Williamson – who was ringside wearing a Newcastle United home shirt – for the British super-welterweight title.

The fight between the pair has been ordered by the British Boxing Board of Control and purse bids to stage the event are due by August 10, with the contest to take place before the end of December.

Probellum promoted fighter Williamson has been clear that he wants the fight, with Kelly recently confirming that he too would be open to scrapping for the British title during his post-fight interview alongside his promoter.