Anthony Nelson is determined to retain his Commonwealth title to say “thank you” to South Shields FC and his home town.
The 30-year-old defends his belt against the dangerous Belfast fighter Jamie Conlan in London at the end of a tumultuous week for South Tyneside sport.
South Shields Football Club came on board - they threw me a massive lifelineAnthony Nelson
Shields lifted the Ebac Northern League Second Division title on Tuesday night when they thumped Willington 5-1.
Nelson admitted were it not for the Mariners he may no longer still be in the sport, never mind enjoying the biggest night of his career at the Copperbox Arena.
Just months after being on the verge of quitting, “Babyface” has his game face on for a mouth-watering classic against the undefeated Conlan.
“Before Christmas I was ready to walk away from the game,” said Nelson.
“I never set foot in this gym for two months, I couldn’t bring myself to even do that, never mind train.
“That’s how upset I was about things.
“I had been let down over two big shows and I never had a penny with Christmas around the corner, with a wife, three kids, mortgage to pay.
“I was so stressed but then South Shields Football Club came on board - they threw me a massive lifeline.
“If it wasn’t for them then I’m not sure I’d still be boxing.”
The Mariners agreed to sponsor the Mal Gates-trained crowd favourite and along came this big opportunity to get Nelson buzzing again.
“I can’t thank them enough,” said Nelson, whose dad, Paul, and brother, Paul Jnr, are Shields fans.
“I’m over the moon the the championship is now here to complete a great season.
“I used to be a dedicated Newcastle United fan myself, but haven’t really followed football since I got into the boxing.
“But my dad and brother both support South Shields and go to the games.”
A 1,000 crowd were at Mariners Park on Tuesday and over 100 fans will be at the Olympic Park venue on Saturday to be in Nelson’s corner.
“My supporters have always been good, but I wasn’t expecting to sell many tickets,” he said. “I had 50 to start with and a few VIPs, but within a couple of hours they were all gone.
“I’ve sold 100 now!
“I found selling tickets for London easier than for boxing locally.
“Supporters don’t want to watch me fight journeymen when they know the result.
“People want to see me on the big stage - it’s exciting.
“I am excited by this, it’s a massive fight.
“It’s what gets me out of bed, it’s what motivates me.”