A North-East Rivalry in a Battle For The British Title: Josh Kelly vs Troy Williamson 

A North-East Rivalry in a Battle For The British Title: Josh Kelly vs Troy Williamson 

By Lucy McDonald

Saturday night saw Josh Kelly (12-1-1) keep his world title dreams alive as he claimed victory over Argentina’s Lucas Bastida (18-2-1) on the judges’ scorecards for the vacant WBO international super-welterweight title.  

Kelly spent most of a stirring fight week kicking around in his beloved Sunderland shirt. Targeting his love of football as a weak spot, and maintaining that fiery momentum, Bastida made his ring walk sporting a Newcastle United shirt. Perhaps ammunition to get under the skin of his opponent and provoke mistakes, however, given the outcome of the fight, this tactic may well of had an adverse effect.

Returning to the ring for the second time since his loss to David Avanesyan in February 2021, Kelly has commenced his fresh climb of the world rankings with the view of an eventual world title shot. The time is now for him to set the record straight and show fans, and critics, precisely what he is capable of. Although it was not all plain sailing, the 28-year-old did enough to win via unanimous decision and leave the Vertu Motors Arena with the international title strapped around his waist. 

The British Boxing Board of Control have recently ordered Troy Williamson (18-0-1) to defend his British super-welterweight title against ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly. To enable him to analysis his potential future opponent’s performance, the unbeaten British champion was ringside to see Kelly collect his new strap. Although the Sunderland fanatic proved that his defence is somewhat superior to that of his football team, Williamson, from ringside in the famous black and white stripes of Newcastle United, made it clear that he was far less than impressed, commenting that he was ‘bored’ by the viewing. 

Also from the North-East, Williamson is one of the region’s most exciting fighters to watch. He claims that he does not wish for his fans, who pay their hard-earned money to watch him fight, ever to witness anything other than relentless action and has so far always stuck to his word.

In March, he took on Mason Cartwright (18-3-1) in a war over the twelve round distance to retain his British title, stealing the show on the undercard of Lewis Ritson vs Dejan Zlaticanin. The way in which he won that title, however, is a fight that fans are still talking about to this day. In November 2021, ‘Trojan’ challenged the then British champion, Ted Cheeseman (17-3-1), in an epic ‘fight of the year’ contender.

Another show stealer, another fight where his fans in attendance would’ve likely paid double if they had known the electrifying brawl they were about to witness. Williamson and Cheeseman left absolutely everything they had in the ring that evening. The M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, as well as all fans watching across the world, were in awe of the two warriors, failing to believe their eyes as each second of each round brought with it a historic display of boxing brutality. Williamson landed a beautiful, clean, accurate left hook, which transpired to be the final shot of the fight and ended the bout in the seventh round. If the award was for fighting heart, this would most certainly have been a draw.  

The Darlington-born British champion poses an incredible threat to Kelly in their potential match-up and, based on their fighting styles and level of experience, many fans are fast to back the current champion to remain that way. However, this fight is a guaranteed war. Two men with big ambitions, incredible attributes, and, as a matter of extreme importance to them both, rival football teams.  

This fight will undoubtedly draw a huge Northeast crowd. Admittedly, when it comes to football, the Newcastle and Sunderland fans are unable to agree on much. One shared quality of each fanbase, however, is that they will provide unconditional support for their local boxing heroes – win, lose, or draw. This domestic dust-up will bring an amazing atmosphere along with it, and excitement once again for the local boxing scene.  

Photo Credit: Wasserman Boxing

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