Josh Kelly fights in front of his home fans for the first time as a professional when he faces Roarke Knapp in Sunderland on December 16.
Shown live exclusively on DAZN worldwide, Kelly headlines the Wasserman Boxing show against the power-punching South African at the Beacon of Light, with both men daring to put their world title ambitions on the line.
Kelly has boxed all over the world but will walk to the ring in his hometown for the first time since 2012, when he was a rising amateur, on the path towards international titles and Olympic qualification.
‘Pretty Boy’ is now one of the world’s leading contenders in the super welterweight division and his return home, which is set in the shadow of the famous Stadium of Light, promises to be an emotionally charged evening.
But Johannesburg’s Knapp also has strong ties to the city and says, like Kelly, he is a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC, thanks to his father and grandparents who were born in the city.
Josh Kelly said: “I’m so excited to be boxing back home, in Sunderland, for the first time as a professional.
I can’t wait to put on a show and get dancing under those lights on December 16th, with the support of my city behind me.”
Roarke Knapp said: “This is my time to step it up, I belong with the best in the world and so what better way to cement my legacy and introduce myself to the world, than in the UK.
“Kelly is a sublime talent, we’ve both got brilliant styles and it’s going to be great to mix it up and see who the better man on the night is.
“I spent my formative years in the UK, I still have family there and my Dad was born and bred in the Sunderland, so the blood that flows through these veins is also from Sunderland and I am a Sunderland fan through and through.”
Kalle Sauerland, Global Head of Boxing at Wasserman Boxing, said: “December 16 is the most important night of Josh Kelly’s career and so making sure he has the backing of his home fans, was vital.
“I was stunned to learn that he’s not boxed in the great sporting city of Sunderland since he was an amateur, 11 years ago, so for everyone involved this is going to be a special homecoming.
“Josh is one of British boxing’s most gifted fighters and now that he is entering his prime, he is ready for all-comers. Knapp is the type of big-punching fighter that a lot of Josh’s rivals would have avoided like the plague, but not our man. To prove he is the best in the division, he’s prepared to take on anyone.”
"Another great fight to add to our best-in-class autumn schedule” said Alfie Sharman VP, DAZN.
“Josh Kelly has all the tools to become a World Champion and on the 16th December, he takes a step closer to fulfilling that potential. Watch it live and exclusive, only on DAZN.”
Kelly, 29, is ranked as the No1 contender by the WBO, and also holds lofty positions with the IBF and WBC.
Knapp, whose record stands at 17-1-1, has built his reputation in South Africa but is now ready to travel overseas to pursue his own world title ambitions.