Kelly has soul, he’s superbad, after stunning stoppage win in Walker

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Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports have promised as returned to the region before the end of this year after a hugely successful show at the Walker Dome on Friday night.

Headlined by Sunderland Olympian, Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly against Birtley’s Tom ‘TNT’ Whitfield, fight fans were far from disappointed by that, or the strong undercard, contests which left the Matchroom supremo dreaming of success to come in the area.

The likes of Stuart Hall, Warren Baister, Simon Vallily and Bradley Saunders, alongside Josh Kelly, all did the region proud when collecting wins, some more emphatically than others.

Kelly put Whitfield to the sword in the headline contest which last less than two minutes after the Rio Olympian pinned the former Northern Area title challenger to the ropes, in their corner, and unleashed seven lefts in quick succession for which there was not only no answer, but left a dazed and confused Whitfield on the canvas unsure what to do next.

Afterwards Kelly said: “I was ready for eight rounds as you can never plan for what happens in a contest.

“Short of stopping an opponent you don’t know how long a contest will last however, once the jabs started landing I knew I had the contest won it was just down to the timing of the shots and knowing in my head that I’d catch him sooner rather than later.”

The world is certainly the oyster for Kelly, but for Whitfield its back to the drawing board with the next move needing to be plotted wisely by coach Mal Gates; there was no disgrace in the loss or it’s manner either, Kelly being destined to be a future world champion, and who knows Whitfield could do a rematch in the future?

The Birtley fighter added: “I got KO’d off a future world champion.

“I trained hard for this, putting miles on the road and rounds in the gym but boxing is all about levels and we knew we were stepping up a massive level to take on Josh.

“I’ve never ducked a fight though and never ducked this one. I had no hesitation when we were offered it as it was a massive opportunity to box on a live Sky show and to share the ring with a future world champion.

“This time last year I was recovering from a broken jaw and now I’ve just topped a Sky Sports show, it’s what dreams are made of.”

The remainder of the main Sky Sports bill saw Hetton’s Jordan King collect a routine win Adam Jones, Liverpool’s Anthony Fowler claim an impressive stoppage success at the start of the fourth against Nikolavs Gvajava and ‘Miss GB,’ Natasha Jonas turn up the heat with a stunning debut performance with a first round stoppage of Monika Antonik.

On the undercard, Bradley Saunders made an emphatic return after some 21 months out with injury and showed little sign or ring rust, or after effects to double hand surgery, he claimed first round, 163 second stoppage win after opponent Casey Blair’s corner threw in the towel whilst former world champion, Stuart Hall, eased to a comfortable six round win over the tricky Jose Aguilar.

The four Fighting Chance opening the bill impressed to warrant further exposure as Darren Reay and Jamie Humble earner points successes, Kris Pilkington fought a tough draw whilst Ferryhill’s hard hitter, Kyle Redfearn, notched up another stoppage win, his third in four, to remain unbeaten, taking down Martin Orlusiak late in the second; cruiserweight’s Warren Baister and Simon Vallily also tasted victory as the former stopped Imantas Davidaitas early in the second, and the latter was pushed the distance by Blaise Mendouo over six.

After the show Hearn said of a potential return: “I’d like to come back to the Newcastle (Metro Radio) Arena in October with Vallilly vs. Baister, Stuart Hall in that kind of find, and Josh Kelly.

“Bradley needs another fight still because he’s been out a long time but after that I don’t see why he shouldn’t jump in at the deep end.

“We probably need one more to add real depth to the card as well but there was 2,000 tickets sold on Friday night and a lot of the young kids were starting out so it was very encouraging.”

Wraith And Saunders Go Their Separate Ways

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After a successful twelve months manager Steve Wraith and undefeated super lightweight Jeff Saunders are to part company with the stars next step to be announced over the coming days.

July 2016 would see Tynesider Wraith pull off one of the biggest coups in professional boxing when landing the signature of the hottest property about. At the time Saunders was undefeated in seven, including a trip to South Africa, Wraith having promoted the star on three occasions whilst also witnessing ‘that’ stoppage win over Istvan Kiss after just 15 seconds at the Manchester Arena.

Since signing with Wraith, the fighter won a further four contests, the last via stoppage on home soil in Sedgefield and included being on the first show at St James’ in nearly fifty years.

Speaking of the decision to part ways Steve said: “The agreement from day one was that it was a one year management contract in order to help through to the next level.

“We’ve sat and talked at length about it and feel that the time is right for him to move on and he goes with my blessing.

“Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to promote both Bradley and Jeff and with that brought a solid grounding and reputation within the boxing fraternity.

“The relationship with the Saunders family will continue though as my some of my fighters are trained by Jeff Snr over at South Durham.”

Fighters like Jeff, as with elder brother Bradley beforehand, are hot property in the fight game so whoever snaps up the fighter, who is undefeated in eleven contests with six stoppages, has a goldmine at their disposal, and surely title successes in the immediate future with both English and British on the 22-year-old’s radar over the next twelve months.

Wraith added: “Whoever Jeff decides to sign with I’m sure it will be the right decision.

“He knows what he’s looking for going forward and I’m looking forward to seeing his next fight later on in the year.”

Although Saunders, following in the footsteps of Billy Snaith, has left the Wraith camp the Tyneside-based manager still has Neil Hepper, Carl Wilson and Mark Downing whilst adding Chrissy Wood (pending BBBofC approval), from the County Durham/Teesside area, on his books ensuring there is a bright future ahead either way.

Into the Lion’s Den for heavyweight TK

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There’s a very busy five weeks ahead for Fighting Chance heavyweight soldier, Jone TK Volau with not one, but two big fights lined up.

Having to juggle life as a soldier with life as a heavyweight professional boxer was never going to be easy but for TK, with four wins from five already to his name, the next spell is crucial to his progression.

Narrowly losing, by a point, to Josh Sandland, in his last outing, TK will first head to Germany on June 17 to face undefeated Burak Sahin on the Paul Smith – Tyron Zeuge world title undercard; then, on his return, he’ll have a quick turn-around before heading to Scotland to face Jay Carrigan-McFarlane in what’s an expected six rounder.

“The last fight (against Sandland) still haunts me,” began TK.

“I need to put that behind me and will look to do good things in Germany and then Scotland. It was a tough decision to make when we got the call but we believe I’ve got the talent and we’ve looked in detail at both him (Sahin) and his past opponents.

“It’s because of what we’ve seen we believe that I can go there and do the business on what will be a great fight card.

“Take nothing away from Sahin though but he’s fought nobody like me and I intend on going there and causing an upset, I can’t wait to get back out there.”

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With five months since that last outing for TK, being in the army will do that for sure, TK is a non-stop action man in and out of the ring.

Sandland’s blip aside the four wins have seen him impress enough to warrant high quality outings on the road and, although he’s had doubters since turning professional in late 2015, the now 33-year-old is aiming for title gold over the next twelve months, with a potential Northern Area title clash at the end of the year, then gunning for the English in 2018.

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“I’ve been away due to obvious work commitments so now I’m trying to get busy again,” TK continued.

“The rest of the lads in the gym have two fights at least up on me so I have to play catch-up (he laughed) and this is a big opportunity for any fighter.

“After these two I’m looking at an Area title shot in December and I’ll be happy to then go for the (vacant) English next year.”

Doubters will always doubt, it’s down to fighters like TK to prove them wrong and do the business, in and out of the ring. With a strong team around him, including the ‘old man’ Ronnie Rowe and trainer Gary Barr, TK’s belief in his abilities is there to see, the loveable heavyweight preparing to blitz all-comers, with a surprising secret weapon in his corner, the pocket rocket, Paul Charters.

“I’ve worked really hard for this, to get to where I am,” admitted TK.

“I’ll be ready though and age is nothing in the heavyweights, people shouldn’t doubt me though and I’ve just got to believe in myself and that’s what I do.

“Going to Germany proves a lot and the Sauerland’s (promoters) have been great in the run-up so we can’t wait to get out there. I’ve asked for Paul (Charters) to come with us so I’m looking forward to that, he’s a great bloke and good to have someone like him in your corner.”

Sponsorship opportunities are available to help TK train and be kitted correctly for his next two fights. Currently serving in the British Army the heavyweight requires assistance with travelling expenses to and from training, training equipment and fight gear – this is an ideal opportunity for businesses to be seen on a global scale via logos on shorts, ring wear etc, for further information email Caroline via caroline211305@hotmail.com.

 

 

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Cooper Challenges For Area Light Heavyweight

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There’s s tough challenge ahead for Darlington light heavyweight, Steve Cooper, this weekend, when he travels to the Bowlers Arena, Manchester for a Northern Area title battle with Barrow’s Liam Conroy.

It comes off the back of a tough 2016, the Darlington fighter having just two outings, in August and November, the latter in his home-town, from a possible ten. A quiet start to this year as well has, quite possibly, had people ‘forget’ Cooper but the prospect of an Area title fight puts him right back in the public eye.

Conroy is a tough ask, and Cooper is aware he goes in as the underdog but the fight makes for an interesting contest irrespective of individual records.

“This is actually the second time of asking with this fight,” began Cooper.

“We were supposed to meet earlier this year but there was issues with my paperwork so I just kept training in the hope something else would come up.

“I had eight out of ten possible fights cancelled last year but something like this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often so you have to take it with both hands.

“You have to jump in at the deep end if you want to get anywhere in life and I know this is a tough challenge so will be going in as the underdog.”

Cooper faces an experienced Conroy who, having had a brief spell at Gateshead College under Steve Cranston as a youth, won the WBC Youth Silver strap in June last year with a fourth round stoppage of Ferenc Albert.

Although the Darlington fighter’s most has been six rounds he is prepared to go the full ten in order to bring home the gold and will travel to Manchester Friday afternoon for the weigh-in before heading back the following day ready for his shot.

“I’ve been getting a lot of good sparring over Peterlee with Jonson McClumpha so my fitness levels are good.

“I’ve also been smashing bags and running well so feel I can be a lot better with timing and precision as we (with trainer Mike Hall) are expecting it to go the distance.

“I’m prepared for that eventuality and we’ve covered all aspects as Conroy is a good fighter but we’ve both suffered losses and he’s beatable.

“I’m not going to build up any hopes of a  stoppage win but he has been put on the canvas a good five or six times and I’ve got plenty in the tank to be able to bring back the gold.”

 

Don’t call it a comeback as Hardy returns

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Following an unexpected hiatus the ‘Horden Hitman’ Anth Hardy returns to the ring this Saturday at Hardwick Hall Hotel against the visiting Andrej Cepur.

Originally scheduled to face namesake Nathan Hardy, Anth, who had an unexpected spell on the side-lines due to the need of eye surgery, finally gets to lace up the gloves for the first time in near fourteen months.

Up until the hiatus Hardy had appeared ten times over a three year spell, challenging for the English title against Joe Hughes in Bath back in July 2015, but, following the shock stoppage loss to Sam O’Maison seven months after, it’s been more about re-building than boxing.

“Although Cepur isn’t ideal for me with the weight, I’ll just relax a little more with my intake and when I’m in there I’ll put my foot on the gas and showcase some skills,” Hardy began.

“(Nathan) Hardy unfortunately had to pull out with a hand injury but I’m still looking at this one as a good step then I’ll probably hit the road and face some up and comers to get some rounds under my belt.

“When I first started out I had some time-frames in mind but you soon realise you can’t plan for what’s around the corner so I’m just looking at keeping busy and get maybe four fights in this year, that’ll be perfect, realistic for me.”

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Having had successful eye surgery, and potential fights either side of that falling through, including twice with Lee Mould, Hardy recently took in a spell on the commentators table alongside Andrew Buchanan at the Walker Dome. The pair putting out their own ‘version’ of Ant & Dec.

That alone showed that, as is the case with Buchanan, and in Hardy’s eyes, they’re around for some time to come in one form or another.

“The eye surgery certainly got in the way of things but I’ve not stopped and been working hard behind the scenes,” he continued.

“I’ve not really been out the gym (Gus Robinson’s in Hartlepool with Peter Cope Snr and Alan Temple) bar the three week period that was on doctor’s orders. Anyway, anyone who knows me knows that I’m a fit professional athlete anyway.

“As for the commentating, alongside Andy, at the Walker Dome, I’d definitely do it again.

“It’s much easier on that side of the ropes for sure. Being in there and doing it is an entirely different concept but I’d like to think that the commentary was honest and fair.

“I’ve known Andy for a long time now and fought on a few shows together; he’s good crack and I know that people like us will be in the sport for a long time.”

One of the first things any boxer will tell you is that they’re blessed, lucky, to get anywhere in this sport the sponsorship and a relatively decent fan-base is required. In Anth’s case he’s had both from the start with his grandfather’s business, Eddie’s Tattoo Studio, playing a vital role in the early stages of his career.

“My uncle has been there from the start, helped with those early bills etc and it’s the small businesses that don’t get thanked enough for the support they give; the same with those that helped me with the recent surgery costs,” added Anth.

“I’d personally like to thank everyone who has had faith in me and supported me through the past twelve months, the surgery and rehab so I hope I can repay them on Saturday night and put in a good performance.”

Anth Hardy, 8-2, appears at Hardwick Hall Hotel this Saturday night opposing Andrej Cepur, 8-33-2, over four rounds on the undercard of Daniel Cope vs Billy Snaith (Northern Area title) and Jeff Saunders vs Chris Truman (British Challenge Belt).

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Area Battle Scheduled for Hardwick Hall

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Steve Wraith takes his promotional bandwagon to Hardwick Hall in Sedgefield next month with the hotly-anticipated, Winner Takes It All showpiece which will be headlined by a thunderous grudge-match between two former stablemates for the Northern Area title.

Champion Daniel Cope will put his Area title on the line against Billy Snaith. Cope who left Gus Robinson gym to join Neil Fannan stable won the title last year against Gatesheads Tom Whitfield. Snaith now trains at Jeff Saunders gym in Sedgefield but is managed by promoter Wraith.

Since the fight was agreed a few weeks ago both fighters have been in action with Cope grabbing a draw at Rainton Meadows and Snaith winning an International Challenge belt in Newcastle. But both fighters clearly had only one thing on their minds with daggers already being drawn.

Cope said: “I really don’t know where he’s got all this confidence from.

“I always beasted him in sparring but he says he wants to fight me so let’s do it, that’s if he makes weight.

“I saw him on Saturday and he was really overweight so I hope he can make it so I can finish this this off and give him a good hiding.”

Challenger Snaith responded: “ I watched his last fight at Rainton Meadows and I will not be having any sleepless nights.

“He was sloppy and unconditioned and didn’t seem interested. Northern Area Champion? Don’t make me laugh.

“He got lucky against Tom Whitfield and isn’t the strongest of lads and come fight night it’s only me and him in the ring. I’m not getting beat off him and if I did then I’d retire.

“I’m knocking him out make no mistake about it. He doesn’t take the body shot and I can’t see him doing anything to me unless I fall and break my leg and even then I’d still beat him.”

The undercard, which is already starting to take shape, will see Jeff Saunders, undefeated in ten outings, step up to eight rounds, and there will be outings for the other Wraith-managed fighters Neil Hepper and Carl Wilson, along with Phil Jeffries protege Adam Watson and the exciting Jordan King will also feature with more names to be confirmed over the next few weeks.

Tickets for the show at Hardwick Hall on April 22 are on sale now priced at £35 from www.proboxingnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets – Hedge your bets fight fans, you’re in for a bumpy ride and may the best man win!!

Bellew Bombs Into Tyneside

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Coming hot on the heels of the hugely successful Floyd Mayweather evening, Tyneside promoter, Steve Wraith, has moved swiftly to announce who, when and where his next boxing dinner will be.

On the afternoon of Sunday May 14th fights fans are invited to take Sunday lunch, and spend time with, the WBC cruiserweight king, and the conqueror of the Hayemaker, one of Merseyside’s favourite sons, Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew.

Bellew is presently a 29-2-1(16) fighter with a number of titles to his name during an already glittering career in the paid ranks. The world ranked number 2 (undefeated Ukrainian, Oleksander Usyk, holds top spot) claimed the WBC crown in May last year with a third round stoppage win over Ilunga Makabu at his native Goodison Park.

Since then the Bomber has defended his title at the Echo Arena with another third round stoppage, this time over BJ Flores, then defeated David Haye, at heavyweight, in his last outing.

Wraith is naturally delighted to be bringing another huge name to Gateshead: “A lot of people have been asking how we can top the success of bringing Mayweather to the region? Well I promise we will. We are in talks with two more of the worlds biggest names and it is only a matter of time before they will be jetting onto Tyneside. 

In the UK Bellew is the name on everyones lips, more so after the Haye fight and I like to bring these fighters North whilst they are making the headlines.

Having had successful dinners with the likes of Anthony Joshua,  Carl Froch, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and so on, I know that there is a huge interest in British stars in the North-East.”

Newcastle Legends are proud to bring fight fans, ‘Sunday Lunch with the WBC cruiserweight champion, Tony Bellew’ on the afternoon of May 14. The event takes place at The Lancastrian Suite, Dunston with tickets available now from the venue on 0191 4605353 priced at £25, £30. £100 and £150.

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Wraith Adds Downing At Number Five

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In the immediate aftermath of a successful outing for two of his fighters at the Walker Dome on Saturday night, promoter-manager Steve Wraith moved quickly to add a fifth professional fighter to his growing stable.

Mark Downing, at 26 years, has boxing blood in his family, but has himself been plying his trade in taekwondo for a number of years, making the England squad on a number of occasions. However, following conversations with family, and the Saunders camo where he’ll be based, he’s decided that, not he has passed his fitness tests with the boxing board, the timing is right for him to make a go in the paid ranks.

He said: “I’m learning off the best in Jeff (Saunders), Neil (Hepper) and the rest of the lads in the gym.

“They’re a fantastic, talented bunch of lads and what they have is unbelievable, the pros and amateurs. To me there’s no better gym to learn my trade, they’re on a different level and I know I’ve a lot to learn but have time to do so.

“I’ll be making my debut in May at Rainton Meadows and I just want to make a go of it and see what happens, that’s all I can do.”

Having been offered a contract with Ross Minter and his London-based Queensberry Promotions, Downing decided, with work playing a major part that his future best lay on Teesside and with the Saunders camp.

Trading at middleweight Downing is scheduled to make his debut under the lights of Rainton Meadows in May, next month’s show coming to soon for the newest addition to the fight game.

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North Stars Shine At The Walker Dome

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(Images courtesy of Singe Vert Photography)

Pendleton and Wraith combined in style on Saturday night at the Walker Activity Dome as the homes stars shone brightly, Billy Snaith claiming the International Challenge belt and Jeff Saunders continuing his progression in style with a thunderous showing of his own.

Wins on the undercard also saw Kyle Redfearn claim an impressive stoppage win whilst Jamie Humble and debutants Darren Reay and Krisy Pilkington also collected victories.

Snaith’s challenge belt contest against visiting Michal Vosyka went the distance but the Ferryhill flier kept his composure and used his reach well to win through on points; Saunders though, as chief support, stole the show with a thunderous performance against Mohamed Larabi.

Both fighters certainly came for the win and, although Saunders admitted afterwards that: “I stepped off the gas from the third onwards, it was a mistake,” he did enough despite deductions, to win through.

That second round though for Saunders was certainly the highlight of the night, the undefeated fighter now 10-0, battering Larabi into near submission but for his pulling back.

Fighting Chance had four of their own stars on the undercard and, after debutant Darren Reay started the evening’s proceedings with a points win over four rounds, Jamie Humble took to Luke Fash and claimed a similar result.

Krisy Pilkington then won his debut with a tough battle against Yousef Al Hamidi before Kyle Redfearn, sandwiched between Saunders and Snaith, and claimed the only stoppage of the night. Facing a late change of opponent in Callum Ide, Redfearn was unfazed and inflicted an eight count right at the end of the second, saving his opponent.

Coming out for the third though and Redfearn was relentless and aggressive, putting Ide down again to claim a third round stoppage win.

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Afterwards promoter Lewis Pendleton said: “It’s been a fantastic night for what was actually a hard show to put together.

“We had some genuine scraps and pitting Larabi against Saunders wasn’t an accident whilst Redfearn’s was a phenomenal test. It all meant that the lads had to come in at odd weights which they did brilliantly to do.

“I’m delighted for Redfearn though, Pilkington was sensational on his debut whilst Reay was superb. They did great to perform the way they did and we had over 1400 in the Dome.

“That shows the thirst for boxing in the region and it was great to work with Steve Wraith and his team again as well as with Greenwich Leisure Limited who were fantastic helping putting the show on.”

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After winning his tenth straight fight, which was dedicated to daughter Lily, the undefeated Jeff Saunders added: “He (Larabi) was tough, very hard to get rid of wasn’t he

“I always felt in control of the fight even though I took my foot off the gas in the third round. That second though, that was good and I felt him tighten up but I became a bit complacent.

“You learn from those little mistakes though as they could cost you as it was a tough fight to be in. Fair play to him although I knew I had his number.

“Next month though I’m stepping up again as I go for eight rounds and will be back in the gym and raring to go on Tuesday, ready for the next one.

“I just did what my coaches (Jeff Snr and Mark McGuinness) said in the corner and could hear the fans, especially our Brad, my mum (Tracey) and Lorrena, shouting me on ringside. I owe them, and Steve, a lot.”

The next outing for Saunders and Snaith, alongside Neil Hepper and Carl Wilson, will be at Hardwick Hall next month and then at the Rainton Meadows Arena on May 27 which will be headlined by two Northern Area title fights.

Westgarth Wanting a Tyneside War

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Ahead of his next outing, his first in nearly ten months, Scott Westgarth is wanting a home outing on his native Tyneside, or anywhere in the north-east, later this year.

Sparring with, and appearing on the undercard of stablemate Sam ‘Speedy’ Sheedy’s Commonwealth middleweight title shot on March 24 at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge, Westgarth, son of former ten year veteran heavyweight, John Westgarth, is clamouring to make up for lost time.

“I’m not bothered who it is I fight, I just want to get back in the ring as it’s been nearly ten months since I last fought,” began Westgarth.

“I’ve had several fall by the wayside including a recent English eliminator so I’m just excited to finally have something concrete to go into as it’s been a little disheartening as you’re putting in a lot of work for very little reward.”

With stablemate Sheedy challenging for international honours Westgarth is aware that success will open doors for the rest of the gym, and with undefeated prospect, Tommy Frank, also on the undercard, it’s made for a busy, and exciting, training camp for the Geordie.

“We’ve all been training, sparring and doing strength & conditioning together so it’s been nice to know that you’re all fighting at the same time,” continued Westgarth.

“Sheedy is constantly learning both in and out of the ring and that ethic is rubbing off and helping me. He’s brilliant at what he does and, although he’s smaller, he’s really quick and has the tools.”

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In fighting on March 24 Westgarth is under no illusions that he is heading towards a last chance saloon of sorts. Only entering the amateurs at 24 he turned professional at 27 and now, at 31 is short on time to make an impression and maybe pick up a few titles before he hangs up the gloves.

“As a late starter I said I’d see where I was at when I hit 32,” Scott stated.

“I’ll be 31 in July so it’s the time now in which to make the breakthrough. I just want to have fair fights and be able to push myself a little bit when I step through the ropes.

“I deserve some respect, want the fights, and would love to think I could challenge for the (light heavyweight) Area title this year.

“I’d love to fight back home (In Newcastle) but I know there’s a lot of logistics to work through but I’ve got some good sponsorship and a decent following, plenty come down to Sheffield, so who knows.”