CALLUM Simpson was thrilled with his impressive television debut and says he was inspired by watching Barnsley FC beat Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the week.
The 26-year-old super middleweight from Barnsley stopped Swiss opponent Celso Neves in the third round on Saturday at the Manchester Arena.
He was backed by a noisy contingent of fans from his home town who he hopes will now follow him on a journey to the very top of the sport.
Simpson told the Chronicle: “I have been to shows before when you walk out and it’s a little bit quiet but Barnsley made noise for me and turned up.
“When I walked out, it was a massive roar and everyone was chanting ‘you Reds’ and ‘Yorkshire’. I loved it.
“It was a good feeling to know my town is behind me.
“I sold hundreds of tickets from the Barnsley area.
“I know a lot of people watched it on TV in Barnsley. I remember watching boxing in the Garrison saying ‘that’s going to be me one day’ and now it is. It’s a good feeling.
“The support has been unbelievable and it’s massively appreciated.”
Simpson further endeared himself to the Barnsley public when, in his post-fight interview, he corrected the interviewer who described him as being from Sheffield by saying: “I’m not from Sheffield, I’m from Barnsley.”
Barnsley defender Liam Kitching walked with Simpson to the ring and sat ringside, having scored the final goal in a 4-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier at Oakwell to keep the Reds in contention for automatic promotion in League One.
They know each other through Kitching’s brother Guy, also a professional boxer, while about ten of the Barnsley players were in attendance.
Simpson said after the fight: “Kitch got a very good goal on Tuesday and I was there to see it in a wicked atmosphere.
“There are big things happening for sport in Barnsley.
“Just seeing the passion from the fans at Oakwell – you can’t beat it. They are passing it over to me.
“It gave me a good boost and motivation for my fight.
“It was a great week for the town. Hopefully by the time I fight again in late spring or early summer, they have been promoted.”
Simpson knocked his opponent down inside the first minute after a powerful right hand to the head.
He floored him again with another right-handed shot in the third round and the referee called the fight off.
It was his 11th successive win as a professional.
“I am very delighted. It was a good performance.
“I dropped him in the first round, took my foot off the gas in the second and got to business again in the third – put that pressure back on him and I dropped him again. It looked like he could have carried on but that referee has seen me drop people before, let them carry on then I have dropped them again. He knows how ruthless I can be when I have got people hurt.”
The fight was Simpson’s debut on television after signing with Sky Sports and promoter BOXXER.
“I have loved it. It’s been amazing.
“I feel like I am made for this.
“I feel like I have worked very hard to get to this point.
“Hopefully everyone enjoyed what they saw and it will only get bigger and better for me.
“Hopefully I will be out late spring early summer.
“I don’t know what fight I will have next but, by the end of this year, I want the English title and to be mandatory for the British. This fight gave me a little taste of what’s to come.”