GLENN McCrory is looking forward to Amir Khan’s Newcastle debut, and excited about the effect it could have on the city’s emerging boxing talent.
The 22-year-old will make the first defence of his WBA world light welterweight title against unbeaten Ukrainian Dmitriy Salita at Newcastle Arena on December 5.
It is a coup for a city which has previously hosted Nigel Benn, Joe Calzaghe, Naseem Hamed and Ricky Hatton – all then managed by Khan’s promoter Frank Warren – and McCrory hopes it acts as an inspiration to his latest protegé.
Akaash Hussain is the pick of the youngsters at McCrory’s Newbiggin Hall gym and, while none of his fighters will be on the December bill, the North East’s only former world champion will make sure the 17-year-old is able to further study Olympic silver medallist Khan.
“Kaash Hussain’s been to training camps with Amir Khan before and it’s great that Amir’s coming to the city for others to see him first hand,” explained McCrory.
“I will speak to the Khan family nearer the time and see how we can get Kaash involved.
“He won the junior ABAs at the same time as Amir’s younger brother did this year – Haroon was a few weights below – so we know the family. Kaash is going really, really great. We’re putting a whole team around him and I’m really focusing my efforts on him at the moment.
“I train a couple of Asian kids at my gym and I’m looking to get more involved. It’s great for them to have a role model like Amir to look up to. He flies the flag for them all the time.”
Hussain and McCrory face a big decision in February, when the 6ft 4in heavyweight turns 18. The choice between turning professional or training for the London 2012 Olympics will be a difficult one for the Muslim from the west end of Newcastle.
With Frank Maloney having recently brought a number of high-profile shows to Sunderland based around popular local fighter Tony Jeffries (like Khan, a former Olympic medallist), McCrory is delighted to see Newcastle getting a piece of the action.
“I’ve always been beating the drum for Newcastle so I’m pleased people are listening,” he said. “It was me who brought Frank Maloney up here initially and I was beating the drum to Frank Warren as well.
“Frank Maloney’s brought a few fights to Sunderland recently but this is a whole different thing. I’m obviously very keen to see it happen.
“I spoke to Frank Warren about the possibility of Amir Khan coming up here last year, so I’m really pleased it’s finally going to happen. Obviously I think it’s a great place for him to come, and Frank agreed. We’ve got great fans in the North East, now we want some home-grown talent.”
Now McCrory is just hoping Warren can agree a television deal with Sky so he can commentate on what he sees as a potentially exciting fight.
“I’m a fan of Amir Khan’s – he’s shown great commitment and courage to come back from a devastating knockout (by Breidis Prescott last year) to win a world title,” said McCrory.
“I’ve covered Salita before. He’s an undefeated kid who was touted as the next big thing. He’s a Jewish fighter with a big, big following in New York, where he’s based.
“It’s an excellent match-up and I’m looking for Khan to go from strength to strength as a boxer.”
Bolton-born Khan, now based in Los Angeles claimed his first world title by outpointing Salita’s compatriot Andriy Kotelnik in July.
Jeffries takes the next step
TONY Jeffries will make a step up in class as well as distance when he returns to the ring a week on Friday.
The Olympic bronze medallist will take on Belarusian light-heavyweight champion Artem Solomko in what is scheduled to be his first six-round contest.
The 28-year-old former heavyweight has a mixed professional record, having won 10 of his 27 contests, three of them by knockout. He won his national title in May 2008 by beating Dimitry Adamovich, but has not fought since.
Jeffries' fourth professional fight will be his third against a Belarusian, having already faced Ilya Shakuro and Aliaksandr Vayavoda.