BISHOP Auckland's boxing mechanic Nathan Forrest is celebrating early professional success after winning the Northern Area lightweight belt just 19 months after joining the paid ranks.

In just his seventh contest, unbeaten Forrest beat Kai Richmond with a stoppage in the third of 10 scheduled rounds on the recent Jobes Boxing Promotion show at Rainton Meadows.

The 24-year-old - who boxes out of Barnard Castle ABC and is trained by Neil Fannan - was delighted to win his first major belt and now wants to be back between the ropes before the summer as he looks to continue to build momentum.

"I was warming into the fight as the third round started," says Forrest, reliving the victory,

"I clipped Kai with a short right hand which buckled his legs. He grabbed on but I managed to let a flurry of shots go. It hurt him. He tried to grab a hold, but it was like I smelled blood, so I just kept letting my hands go landing a further series of clean punches.  Kai was taking a beating and unable to fight back so the referee stepped in."

Forrest is from a boxing family and thanked trainer Fannan for his ongoing support.

He said: "Neil’s helped me make major improvements and given me the tools I need to be a well-rounded boxer. I had 27 amateur fight, winning 14, including the Tyne Tees & Wear Senior Development belt aged 20, before going on to box multiple national champions.

"Boxing’s a bit in the family with my dad and older brother having given it a go and my nephew Tommy’s doing well at Shildon ABC. 

"My partner Charlotte was a national development boxing champion. It was always the dream to box professionally and from being 17 I pursued this goal relentlessly."

Anthony Joshua and Tommy Ward are heroes of Forrest, who says: "I’ve followed Joshua from the start and Ward is my favourite fighter.

"His skill set is unreal.  I’ve watched him since childhood and he's won British and European titles. Being able to train alongside him and have him educate me in the gym is an honour and a blessing especially as I’ve been very active as a new professional.

"I also coach amateurs at Barnard Castle ABC and I’m aware that the younger boxers and their parents view me as a role model. It’s a responsibility but I love teaching and sharing experiences so they can better themselves in life as well as improving their boxing.

"I always stress how much boxing can do for a kid. The respect learnt, the discipline, the health benefits, the sense of accomplishment and accountability. It’s awesome."

"We haven’t yet discussed what’s next for me but I’ve still got learning to do and experience to gain so I’ll enjoy the win and get back in the gym and hope to box again early summer. Let’s see who dares challenge for the belt. Whoever it is I’ll defend it successfully."

Forrest was born in Bishop Auckland and later lived in Darlington before starting as as an apprentice mechanic in Barnard Castle. He still works full time as a mechanic at G W Holmes & Son Van Sales, who also act as his sponsor.

He thanked his others sponsors: J Denham Metals Ltd, The Cricketers arms in Barnard Castle and Specialist Timber Supplies in Bishop Auckland.

Barnard Castle ABC is located at Stainton Grove Unit 5 in the town and contactable on Shildon ABC is at 26 Main Street on ).