Tony Nellins ready to make ring return


One of Belfast’s most exciting fighters will finally return to the ring this Saturday night

Welterweight Tony Nellins [3(0)-0-1] was involved in an under-the-radar Fight of the Year in March 2017, bringing the house down at the Shorts Sports and Social Club, but has not fought since. It was a thrilling 39-39 draw that night on the Holywood Road and the 27-year-old will return to the same venue as part of the ‘Back in Belfast’ card this weekend. A year and a half out of the ring, it has been a frustrating period for Nellins – who also had a five-and-a-half year gap between bout two and three – and the Eastside fighter is looking to put this all behind him on the Team Alio and Boxing Ireland show.

A fitness professional, Nellins has been out of the ring but he hasn’t been out of the gym, seeing numerous dates slip by. He outlined how “the last 18 months I’ve been training consistently. I was scheduled to be fighting on Mark Dunlop’s bill on April 14th at the Europa Hotel but due to a bit of bad luck and a perforated ear drum the fight was cancelled! As soon as it’d healed up I was back training and in preparation for the Mark Dunlop bill in October at the Europa Hotel but that was obviously scrubbed due to James Tennyson fighting in Boston! It was more frustrating than anything but the consistent training and always staying ready has kept my mind at ease, I’m buzzing to get the fight date confirmed.”

A real fan-favourite and crowd-pleaser, Nellins brings big support to his fights and entertains in what are invariably blood ‘n’ guts battles. However, the modest Ulsterman explains how “I wouldn’t say I try to put on a show. I just make sure that I give one hundred percent on the night and if that means a war so be it. As always I’ll be bringing the Nellins Army with me to set the atmosphere! I am not in there to be tippy-tappy. The amateur game is over, I am in there to do damage. They are in there to hurt you so I am there to hurt them before they get the chance. It’s dog eat dog.”

Nellins doesn’t have a handy fight on Saturday night. While many, after such a long time out of the ring, would be matched in an easier comeback fight, ‘The Baddest Man in Belfast’ goes in against dangerous Bulgarian brawler Radoslav Mitev who has caused big upsets before. Nellins explained how “I’m not going to be put in against people who are going to roll over. I told Alio [Wilton, trainer and manager] that everyone who is sharing the ring with me I want to be coming for the win, not journeymen who roll over. I don’t like to make predictions. I will see what my opponent brings to the table and find a way to deal with him, but if I see the opportunity to get him out of there early I will! I’m improving every single day on all aspects, getting fitter with all the rounds sparring, getting stronger with the strength and conditioning, and getting sharper with the speed and agility training.”

Nellins doesn’t want to be waiting another 20 months for his next fight after his clash with Mitev. The welterweight scene is bubbling nicely with lots of top prospects and the Belfast boxer is eager to be fighting for Irish and Celtic titles in the near future. Nellins outlined how “as far as fights go, I’m keen to fight them all any one of them! Although myself team are gonna be smart about it and fight the right fights at the right time. The most important thing for me this year is staying ready and being consistent.”

The Luke Wilton headlined card also features a full undercard alongside Nellins. Making their professional debuts are teenage Larne super featherweight Kelvin McDonald and Belfast super flyweight Cathy McAleer, the first Northern Irish female pro in almost 20 years, and there are further appearances from Lenadoon cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy, Antrim Town cruiserweight Conor Cooke, and Scottish cruiserweight David Jamieson.

Limited tickets for the night remain, are priced at £30 (unreserved) and £40 (ringside), and are available from all the boxers involved. Tony Nellins can be contracted through his social media or by ringing him at 07889288614.

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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