Tony Jeffries is set to take Sunderland by storm as the "Mackem Mauler" begins his professional career with one aim in mind – to bring the world title to the North-east.
Olympic Bronze Medallist “Jaffa” Jeffries has signed professional forms with Sheffield-based promoter Dennis Hobson in what promises to be a match made in heaven.
Hobson’s Fight Academy promotional outfit has been the guiding light throughout Clinton Woods’ rise to the top and where former IBF world light-heavyweight champion Woods has gone, Jeffries can follow and the North-east should hold on for the ride.
Jeffries said: “I cannot wait to get started. I know I have got so much to learn, but with Clinton helping out I have got a fantastic teacher. He won the world title and that is what I want a few years down the line.
“I am delighted with the deal I have got under Dennis Hobson and all I can promise is 100 per cent blood, sweat and cheers! I want to make Sunderland and the North-east proud of me. I have gone some way towards doing that by winning a medal in Beijing this summer, but now the real business starts in the pro ranks.
“I know I have got to improve in every department, but I believe I have the technical skills to succeed in the paid ranks and the desire and determination which you need to make it to the top. Clinton has shown me the way and I will be listening to him and learning all the time.”
Hobson will announce Jeffries’ first pro fight shortly, but a date in late February has already been earmarked for the Olympic hero to make his bow.
Hobson said: “It will be in Sunderland and we are looking at several arenas because Tony has already got a massive following. I have been up to Sunderland on numerous occasions and wherever I go I cannot believe how popular he is. Everybody wants to meet him and shake his hand. Tony is a loveable person and the people in the North-east seem to have taken him to their hearts already.
“He has the makings of a star – no doubt about it. He has all the credentials in terms of raw talent, but now the real work begins in the paid world of boxing.
“Having Clinton alongside him is a godsend. Tony is a light-heavy and Clinton is too so they can even talk on the same level. Clinton has shown what can be done with the right attitude and the right approach.
"He won the world title on a memorable night for Sheffield sport and he wants to win it back. He is returning to the ring in early February on a show in Jersey and it is the start of his comeback after defeat to Antonio Tarver last year.
“Clinton knows enough about the boxing game to know that Tony Jeffries ticks all the right boxes. Now we just have to nurture him along carefully and let his talent develop.”
Jeffries has yet to appoint a trainer, but Hobson says that will be decided soon.
“We are taking our time because we need the right person for Tony as he will spend more time with his trainer than his girlfriend! Tony has got a few decisions to make and we will help him all the way. It is up to him who he goes for, but we will back whatever decision he makes.”