SUNDERLAND fighter Josh Kelly will now be taking on Colombian Placido Ramirez when he fights in his hometown later this month.

Kelly was originally due to be taking on Roarke Knapp at the Beacon of Light in a super-welterweight showdown on Saturday, December 16.

However, an injury has forced the South African out of the contest, with Ramirez having quickly been lined up as a replacement.

The big-punching 29-year-old will hope to catapult himself into World title contention by wrecking Kelly’s homecoming party on Wearside.

Kelly, nicknamed ‘Pretty Boy’ and ranked as the number one contender in the super-welterweight division is determined to further his own World-title dreams as he fights in Sunderland for the first time as a professional.

The former GB Olympian is hoping a victory in less than a fortnight’s time will set up a stellar 2024 that could feature a World-title tilt and a possible outdoor fight at the Stadium of Light.

“Out goes one dangerous opponent, and in comes another, for Josh Kelly’s huge homecoming show on December 16,” said Kalle Sauerland, the global head of boxing at Kelly’s promotion company, Wasserman Boxing.

“The threat posed to Josh’s plans for next year remains high with Ramirez, who comes to the UK next week, with 17 knockouts on his record, nothing to lose and everything to gain. 

“But Josh is the one of this country’s best fighters and the change of opponent has not changed his laser-focus on delivering a performance for his Sunderland fans to be proud of, but one that also sends out a statement of intent for next year. 

“Make no mistake, 2024 is gearing up to be Josh Kelly’s year and a big win on December 16, on DAZN, sets that up perfectly.”

This month’s Wearside bill will also now feature an appearance from one of Britain’s most exciting young talents, Tom Welland.

The 19-year-old announced himself in the paid ranks with a devastating fourth-round stoppage win on his debut in Brighton last month. 

Welland joins Newcastle’s Dan Toward on the undercard, with the Geordie fighter fresh from his stunning debut knockout triumph in Bolton on Friday night.

Hard-hitting Kazakh, Tursynbay Kulakhmet, a former World Amateur Championships medallist, is another top-level addition to the card, joining local fighters Ben Marksby, Harvey Lambert, Travis Waters as well as Romanian Andrei Dascalu.

However, the IBF World middleweight title eliminator between Denis Radovan and Andrei Mikhailovich has been postponed. 

A muscle injury to Germany’s Radovan means he will not be fit for the final eliminator, which was due to act as the co-main event on December 16. Radovan is ranked number three with the IBF and knew victory in Sunderland would land him a shot at World champion, Janibek Alimkhanuly, but injury means the unbeaten 31-year-old must now wait to secure his chance.

Meanwhile, undisputed World featherweight champion Amanda Serrano has announced she is relinquishing her WBC title after the governing body refused to sanction fights of 12 three-minute rounds.

The Puerto Rican retained her WBO, WBA and IBF belts in October with victory over Danila Ramos in a contest fought over that length. However, her WBC title was not on the line because the organisation did not endorse the format. Women’s fights are typically fought over ten two-minute rounds.

Serrano wrote on Instagram: “Moving forward if a sanctioning body doesn’t want to give me and my fellow fighters the choice to fight the same as the men, then I will not be fighting for that sanctioning body. The WBC has refused to evolve the sport for equality. So, I am relinquishing their title. Thank you to the sanctioning bodies who have evolved for equality!”