Commonwealth champion Anthony Nelson today saluted South Shields Football Club for throwing his boxing career “a lifeline”.
The ambitious Mariners have backed the Shields sporting hero who is looking forward to the maiden defence of his super-flyweight belt in London at the end of the month.
Nelson puts his title on the line against Belfast’s Jamie Conlon at the Copperbox Arena in the Quenn Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The undefeated 30-year-old admitted he was as low as he had ever been at the end of last year, but he’s now raring to get 2016 under way with a bang in the Eastend.
Nelson and the Mariners linked up in a unique sponsorship deal, much to the delight of the grateful Harton & Westoe Miners WMC-based boxer.
“If it wasn’t for South Shields I’m certain I would not be having this fight,” he told the Gazette.
“I have to give massive respect to the club, I can’t thank them enough.
“They are all nice, down to earth, genuine people, whose support has been fantastic.
“I was probably at my lowest towards the end of last year.
“I was at the verge of walking away – there were two title dates talked about in October and November on big telly shows, but I was let down twice.
“I have a family to look after, a mortgage to pay and I wanted to give my family a nice Christmas.
“I really felt at the bottom, but South Shields have come on board and thrown me a lifeline.
“I have to thank Geoff Thompson, Mike Orr and everyone at the club.
“They are close to promotion in the Northern League which is great to see and if we can both help each other along our ways that would be brilliant.”
While the Mariners are coming to the climax of an incredible season, Nelson is just four Saturdays away from his own destiny.
The Mal Gates-trained star has his work cut out on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders first defence of the WBO world title.
Conlan, 29, brings an impressive 15-fight winning record to the Copperbox, including victories in a variety of WBO-sanctioned contests.
“It’s the hardest fight I’ve had,” said Nelson who defeated unbeaten Scot Jamie Wilson for the vacant title 12 months ago at the Metro Radio Arena.
“He’s a good kid, strong, durable, likes to fight, but he’s nothing I can’t handle.
“Conlan’s got two arms, two legs, a head, just like me and I have the ability and belief to beat him and keep my belt.
“He’s good, but I know this fight will bring out the best in me.
“I am training three times a day at the moment, Mal is pleased and we’re looking forward to it.”
Nelson would also like to thank his other sponsors, Black Sheep Fitness Academy, Chris Davison Custom Diets, Muscle Relief massage therapy, Team Valley Cafe, Eastern Promise and I Clean Services.