Tom Whitfield backed to shock former Olympian Josh Kelly

Tom Whitfield, centre, with coaches Mal Gates and Paul Charters at Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare gym. Picture by Tim Richardson.
Tom Whitfield, centre, with coaches Mal Gates and Paul Charters at Harton and Westoe Miners Welfare gym. Picture by Tim Richardson.
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Mal Gates insists Tom Whitfield will go into the ring against Josh Kelly looking to shock the Olympian.

The South Shields camp are “relishing” a fight with the Sunderland star in Newcastle on Friday, June 23.

Gates revealed that Whitfield, who has been beaten only once in his career, asked for the eight-round top-of-the-bill appointment at the JD NXTGEN show at the Walker Activity Dome.

Promoter Eddie Hearn is bringing the prospect, known as ‘Pretty Boy’ to his native North East, but the Harton & Westoe Miners Welfare stable are out to spoil the party.

“We were training in the gym and talking about Josh coming up here,” said Gates.

“Tom just said ‘I’ll fight him’ so I got on to Lewis Pendleton, from Fight Chance Promotions, who are working with Eddie.

“I know Josh’s coach, Adam Booth, vets all the opponents and we got word back that he’d take the contest and the deal was done with Eddie within an hour.

“This is a massive opportunity for Tom.

“We have great respect for Josh, he’s a fabulous talent, but Tom is very ambitious, is always fit, has a great engine and we’ll have a game-plan for the fight.

“Tom might not have had the amateur record Josh had but he had a good career and has tons of experience.

“We’re under no illusions, but Josh is there to be beaten and that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.”

Kelly has begun life as a professional in dynamic fashion.

The 23-year-old outpointed game Dubliner Jay Byrne on his debut last month in Glasgow, before registering his first stoppage win in Birmingham last time out when he took apart Spain’s Jony Vina.

“This is a massive stage for Tom,” added Gates, who is looking for sponsors for the 30-year-old for this big fight.

It is the second staging of NXTGEN, a Hearn-promoted series which stages some of the country’s emerging talents.

Hetton’s unbeaten super-middleweight Jordan King looks to extend his 100% record, while cruiserweights, Simon Vallily and Warren Baister, will continue their assault on the division.

Darlington’s former IBF champion Stuart Hall looks to build his way back to another world title show, while Sedgefield’s Bradley Saunders returns to the ring after a 20-month absence.

Tickets are on sale now priced £30 unreserved balcony, £40 unreserved tier, £60 reserved floor seats and £100 reserved VIP seats.

Call Mal on for tickets/sponsorship on 07510 320981.