By Lucy McDonald

Despite the disappointment in waving farewell to a warm and wonderful July, as the old saying goes, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ and the silver lining here is that British boxing is back.  

On Saturday night, Wasserman Boxing will storm the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle for the return of a big name in the city, Josh Kelly (11-1-1), as he battles it out with Argentina’s Lucas Bastida (18-1-1) for the WBO international super-welterweight title.  

Pretty Boy Kelly suffered defeat to European welterweight champion, David Avanesyan (29-3-1), back in February 2021. Having then been absent from the ring until June this year, where he wiped out Peter Kramer with a fourth-round TKO victory, the Sunderland-man is clearly keen to catch up on lost time and get back out, and back to winning ways, as rapidly as is possible. The Sauerland brothers of Wasserman Boxing have so far ensured that regular opportunities are being delivered for PBK. Not just regular opportunities, but the chance to headline shows and, even better so, have them broadcast live on Channel 5 for a wider TV audience to enjoy. A hopeful win for the boxer, a definite win for the casual boxing fan.  

Before his defeat to Avanesyan, Kelly was renowned for his unique fighting style. His performances were exceptional viewing. As a result, the boxing world had high expectations for him. It was clear from early on in his professional career that Kelly was simply too athletic for the lower-level opposition to handle. A year out of the ring will have allowed time to rebuild himself, his style, and his confidence, the question now is, how far can the former Olympian go at 154lb? Is there a world champion behind those fast-moving feet and blistering combinations?  

Although world honours may well await, the 28-year-old must not yet look beyond the task at hand in Lucas Bastida. With both men setting their sights on a world title in the near future, ‘El Tornado’ will not be coming all the way to the North-East of England to leave without that international title strapped around his waist.  

Featuring on the card is Harlem Eubank (14-0) who will take on Eliot Chavez (11-4-1) over ten rounds in the super-lightweight division. Harlem, cousin to current middleweight contender, Chris Eubank Jr, and nephew of former two-weight world champion and British boxing legend, Chris Eubank Snr, looks to pave his own way in the sport. Working so hard to excel in boxing with ‘Eubank’ as your surname name must carry a substantial amount of pressure. To date, the inevitable pressure does not appear to have impacted Eubank, having only managed to impress fans on each occasion under the lights. Stunning spectators once again will be the aim for the Brighton boxer this Saturday night, however, Chavez will arrive in the UK with the momentum of a recent victory, and Eubank, despite his obvious talent, must remain focused to get the job done.  

Outstanding amateur and former Olympian, Pat McCormack, will look to make it two wins out of two as he takes on Dimitri Trenel (8-1) in the super-welterweight division. McCormack made his professional debut in March with a fairly easy evening’s work in which drastically overwhelmed his opponent, Justin Menzie, from the opening bell to claim victory via first-round TKO. His trainer, Ben Davison, has previously commented on how quickly McCormack has adjusted to fighting as a professional and has no doubt that the 27-year-old will become a world champion. His opponent, Trenel, brings with him a winning record but recently suffered his first loss to North-East talent Cyrus Pattinson on the Joshua Buatsi vs Craig Richards undercard. The Frenchman will be eager to box back to winning ways, but he will be in for a serious challenge when he goes toe-to-toe with a quality operator in McCormack this weekend.   

The card also features local prospect, Jordan Barker-Porter (4-1) who will take on popular British fighter, Bec Connolly (3-14). Barker-Porter boxed at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland earlier this month where she added to her winning streak in a six-rounder, claiming victory on the judges’ scorecards.  

Connolly might not have the most impressive record as a professional, however, her resume notes almost every skilled female fighter that the UK has to offer. Having shared the ring with high-calibre opposition, the likes of Terri Harper, Natasha Jonas and Ellie Scotney, ‘Lady Luck’ will have copious amounts of invaluable experience in her corner when she jumps through the ropes. It is safe to say that the 38-year-old does not shy away from a big challenge. This bout is expected to be an exciting one for the viewers to catch live on Channel 5, maintaining the rapid growth in popularity of the women’s sport.  

Photo Credit: Wasserman Boxing

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