Featured image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.

Rio 2016 Olympian and former British champion Josh Kelly returns to his home city of Sunderland for the first time as a professional on Saturday evening.

The 29-year-old takes on Colombia’s Placido Ramirez at the Beacon of Light Arena, live on DAZN in his second appearance in 2023.

Kelly (14-1-1, 7KOs) rounded off 2022 with a dominant twelve-round victory over Troy Williamson which saw him capture the British crown at 154lbs before winning another unanimous decision over Gabriel Corzo in July.

The Briton finds himself ranked number one with the WBO and four with the IBF, meaning a potential shot at world honours could seen be on the horizon for the Sunderland man providing he continues to do the business when he steps through the ropes.

“The best Josh Kelly on the night beats anyone in the world,” he told Wasserman Boxing this week.

“I truly believe that now. There’s a difference between believing and knowing, and what I’m doing in the gym is starting to lead us to knowing I am in the best of the world.”

Soplaviento-born Ramirez (24-3, 17KOs) meanwhile has primarily fought out of his native Colombia.

The 29-year-old’s last contest ended in bizarre fashion in Albania after fans entered the ring and attacked the South American, leading to the fight being ruled a no contest, but Ramirez has amassed a total of 17 stoppages in his 24 wins.

His most recent fight aside, the last seven victories on his record have all ended inside the distance, but were against much lower rated opposition than he will face in Kelly this weekend.

Toward set for second pro appearance

Birtley super-welterweight Dan Toward (1-0, 1KO) will walk to the ring for the second time in the paid ranks as he faces the Czech Republic’s Nikolas Dzurnak (6-5-2, 5KOs) over six rounds.

Toward won ten national championships in the vested code and is touted for more success as a professional following his signing with Wasserman back in July.

Hoddeston featherweight Tom Welland (1-0, 1KO) also features as he takes on Italy’s Yuri Zanoli (3-12-1, 3KOs) over six, while Kazakhstan middleweight Tursynbay Kulakhmet (5-1, 4KOs) faces-off versus France’s Fouad El Massoudi (18-21-1, 2KOs) over the same distance.

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