Josh Kelly 'switched on' for Sunderland homecoming as name is linked with Conor Benn, Kell Brook and Chris Eubank Jr

Josh Kelly sits in the mandatory position to challenge Tim Tszyu for his WBO super welterweight world title, a belt recently made vacant by Jermell Charlo.

The 2016 Olympian fights in his native Sunderland for the first time in his professional career tomorrow night, taking on Columbian Placido Ramirez at the Beacon of Light broadcast live on DAZN.

Kelly (14-1-1. 7 KOs) is having his fifth fight for Kalle and Nisse Sauerland’s Wasserman, his fourth consecutive fight in the North East. He signed up with the Sauerland brothers after a devastating knockout defeat to David Avanesyan, when was boxing under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom umbrella.

“It has been smooth sailing,” Kelly said of the chapter in his career in an interview with ProBox TV. “I think it will continue for a long time, but only time will tell. I’m enjoying it right now. I’m in a great place emotionally, mentally and everything else. I’m just happy is all it is.”

Kelly collides with late replacement Ramirez (24-3, 17 KOs) in his hometown while his promoters also openly look to pair him with British stars Conor Benn, Chris Eubank Jr and Kell Brook.

“You can’t let yourself get tripped up by these guys,” Kelly explained. “You’ve got to keep yourself switched on. These guys will lead you onto those big fights, but you need to get rid of these guys first and put in a good performance.”

Boxing in the North East of England had gone fairly quiet in recent years, however 2023 has seen events return in abundance.

“North East, Newcastle, Sunderland, it’s all booming around here,” Kelly added. “It is an amazing time for boxing here now, I think it just needs to be exposed and give it some time and get the right spotlight on it. I think it is going to be amazing on Saturday night, I can’t wait. It will be rowdy; a lively crowd will be there on Saturday night. I just can’t wait, to get out in front of that crowd and start performing because I know it is going to be electric.

“I know for a fact that all the lads in Sunderland have been like, ‘I can’t wait for this one, we have been waiting for it for ages,’ so I’m just absolutely buzzing. It’s not a huge city, I wouldn’t say it is small but it is a sleeping giant in the sense with the football club. You’ve seen the size of the stadium, it’s a Premier League size stadium. We are a huge city in the sense that we get behind each other and it is good to be back.”