Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly, in red, reached the last 16 in Rio and is now one of the pro fighters leading the charge in the North East. Aziz Karimov / Demotix / Demotix/Press Association Images.

For way too long the North-East has been shunned in favour of the bright lights of London and traditional boxing cities like Manchester and Liverpool. But in an age where interest in boxing in Britain is at all-time high, is the North East going to join the party?

There was a time when the North East did have a place in the mainstream boxing scene. The old Telewest Arena in Newcastle hosted the enigma that was Prince Naseem Hamed’s WBO title defence in 1996. In 1999 and 2002 the imperious Joe Calzaghe defended his WBO title also at the same venue and surprisingly Whitley Bay ice rink hosted the mercurial and bizarre Chris Eubank Sr.

Prince Naseem’s fight poster for his bout with Daniel Alicea at Newcastle Arena.

However, in the past 10 years or so pickings have been slim. The only event in recent memory which has had what you would call a household name appear is when a then little known heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua stopped the American Jason Gavern in three rounds in 2015, at the Metro Radio Arena.

All the fighters mentioned above are all very different characters and fighters, but do share one thing in common; none of them are from the North East.

The key to bringing boxing back to the region is, unsurprisingly the quality of boxers coming from our region.

The shows follow the money, and fight fans are much more likely going to be inclined to go watch a local hero, which explains why Liverpool and Manchester are often chosen as venues for huge events. They have a rich history of producing talented pugilists.

The good news is however, there is no shortage of talented boxers emerging all over the North East of England right now. Josh ‘PBK’ Kelly is spearheading the new generation, the flamboyant Sunderland native is electrifying crowds up and down the country on Matchroom boxing’s Sky shows. Then you have Lewis Ritson of Forest Hall, a 23-year-old who had never previously appeared on TV shocked the boxing fraternity by ripping the British Lightweight title away from Robbie Barrett in emphatic fashion and subsequently being signed by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom.

The most exciting thing however, is that the conveyor belt of talent shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The amateur boxing scene is thriving in the North East. You have the McCormack twins, Pat and Luke. Pat went to Rio 2016 with team GB with Josh Kelly and is considered a prodigious talent. Then you have other excellent fighters like Thomas Hodgson and ABA champion at 60kg and 69kg finalist Joseph Laws – who has the personality to match his talent.

Mercifully, Britain’s two biggest promoters have recognised the thirst for some quality championship boxing in the region and are surely relishing the chance to quench it. Frank Warren is staging the highly anticipated rematch of Liam Smith vs Liam Williams and a host of local talent will be on the bill.

Eddie Hearn has rather excitingly announced that he is planning to bring a huge card featuring the likes of Josh Kelly – who he is looking to move very fast in the pro ranks as his talent belies his age – and Lewis Ritson, who will defend his Lonsdale belt for the first time.

Surely once the boxers and promoters get a taste of that famous North East hospitality and passion it will only just be the beginning of the renaissance.

I for one am very excited. Hopefully this spells the end of eight hour Megabus journey’s and the sore bottom which comes with it. I’d much prefer a quick ride on the metro to the Stadium of Light or St James Park.