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Tony Nellins calls for domestic titles following comeback win

Tony Nellins [4(0)-0-1] admits that the last year has been his worst in terms of pro boxing but is hopeful that the next 12 months will be his best ever.

Over 20 months on from his last outing, the Belfast welterweight returned to the ring on Saturday with a controlled four-round points win over game Bulgarian Radoslav Mitev at the Shorts Sports and Social Club.

A comfortable 40-36 win for Nellins, he hopes the bout will be his last of the four-round variety and intends to move into contention for domestic belts in the near immediate future.

On Saturday though it was all about getting the ball rolling once again as Nellins explained to Irish-Boxing.com how “the last year has been my worst year for pro boxing – Mark Dunlop had me on his show in April and I got a perforated eardrum which was a kick in the balls because I was ready for it.”

“Then, obviously, the [MHD] card in October in the Europa was scrubbed because Tennyson was fighting in Boston, that was another kick in the balls. This was third time lucky!”

There was no luck involved in the ring, however, as Nellins coasted through the four rounds, showing a more patient style than before and not getting too involved with slugger Mitev.

“To be honest with you,” he said. “I felt like I was in first gear right through that, I was just boxing off the jab. I was finding I was loading up when I was throwing the hooks.”

“He’s a fighter and the best way to fight a fighter is to box them. The jab was brilliant for me in the first two rounds, I was just boxing behind the jab and throwing the odd right hand. Third round was a wee bit of a fight but I got back to the jab then.

“I was switching southpaw which was exactly what they were telling me to do in the corner, we were practicing a bit of that in the gym. I can get in and throw bombs, I’ve shown that, but I want to try do different things and be better in every area rather than just be good in one.”

“I got in, got the win pretty easy, didn’t get out of first gear. That fight there was a lot easier than the last one, I was a lot fitter this time. I’ve done three runs this year, the marathon, an ultra marathon, and a half marathon. I wasn’t breathing, I could have done another three or four rounds there no problem.”

The ability to go extra rounds should come in handy for Nellins as the 27-year-old is keen to move up in his next fight.

‘The Baddest Man in Belfast’ outlined how “I want a six rounder next and hopefully it could be like an eliminator for the BUI Celtic – I want bigger opportunities and to move up the domestic scene and take on all the main men.”

“Wherever the Irish title is, that’s what I want! The BUI Celtic or the Irish title, I’m game to fight for any of them, whoever it is that has them.”

Across his five pro fights, Nellins has fought in a number of divisions but the fitness professional feels now he is the perfect fit for welter – coincidentally one of the hottest domestic divisions in Ireland.

While the Irish title is vacant, Jay Byrne holds the BUI Celtic belt and he and Keane McMahon are attempting to build a fight for the national title. Then there are Waterford rivals Dylan Moran and Jade Karam as well as Dubliners John Joyce, Martin Wall, and Francy Luzoho.

Some have suggested that Nellins, who is relatively short in stature, would be better served slimming down to light welter but the chiselled Ulsterman believes he is best served as an explosive welterweight.

Nellins noted how “I easily cut to 147lbs but I got my bodyfat checked last week and I was 6.2% bodyfat so I don’t have a lot more to lose. If I was to go to 140lbs I’d be losing muscle mass and whether you want to lose that or not is another thing.”

“I’m a qualified personal trainer, I know the ins and outs of conditioning. Years ago they would have told you to stay away from the weights, that they slow you down but nowadays the sport is evolving with the likes of Anthony Joshua and all the top boxers doing their strength and conditioning training.”


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie