FROM the punchbags of Twinbrook to title wins in Australia, West Belfast’s very own Nathan Watson has put his name on the map after defeating Declan Kelly for the Australasian Middleweight title last Saturday evening in Southport Sharks AFL Club in Queensland.
Nathan’s story is a testament to his graft and attitude when it comes to working hard, especially when all hope looks lost.
The 26-year-old Twinbrook native headed Down Under just over four years ago after boxing on an Antrim vs Basque Country show at the Balmoral Hotel in 2019. He and his partner were on a flight one week later as he set off to embark on his professional journey in the land of Oz.

Initially operating out of the Fortitude Gym alongside Newry’s Conor Wallace, he enjoyed a debut win, but the offset of the Covid-19 pandemic would throw everything into disarray as training, never mind fighting, became a real problem.
“At the start it was hard as Covid was tough,” said Nathan.
“I had one fight which I won, but for months there was nothing. I was on the verge of packing it in completely and coming home but luckily I held out and one-day I got a phone call to meet with John Bastable and it began to look up from there”.
After teaming up with the esteemed coach Bastable, Nathan regained his momentum where he would go 8-0 under the Ace Boxing banner.
“He (John Bastable) is probably one of the best coaches out here in Australia. He’s dealt with the likes of Mark Flanagan and others who have risen through the ranks, but he rang one day looking for me to meet and train with him. So, I did that and we clicked straight away.
“I believe he saw something in me and before I knew it I was signed up with Angelo Di Carlo of Ace Boxing and had finally got myself on track again and winning fight after fight in the beginning.”

Watson has put his name on the map with victory in Queensland

Watson has put his name on the map with victory in Queensland

A defeat back in December to Dan Hill left the then super-welterweight with a decision to make and after flirting with middleweight and stopping Ryan Heck, he moved back down and suffered a second reverse against Manyang Dut.

He then made the decision to switch back to middleweight and requested the title fight with Kelly.
The Twinbrook native defeated his opponent by unanimous decision but felt his camp had prepared him properly and sticking to his game-plan proved to be the perfect decision when it came to fight-night.
“I stuck completely to the game-plan against Kelly, and we have sparred each other on loads of occasions, but really I knew that I had the fight won on the third or fourth round. I just let him run me around and took a few hits but when it went the distance the decision was never in doubt for me and I am just glad that I have won my first title.”
Not only was it Nathan’s first title, but the Twinbrook man made history by becoming the first ever Irish holder of the Australasian Middleweight title.
“To be the first is amazing. I didn’t even realise until the other day when I had won and someone had mentioned it. It which was amazing to hear, and something I am really proud to hold.”
Speaking with mum Karen, she said the family all gathered in their jammies to tune into her son’s big success despite the nine-hour time difference.
“We all got together in the house and watched him at 10am in the morning, which was handy because of the time difference. We all ended up going home after the fight and getting changed before meeting up again to have a brilliant celebration. We are so proud of him, and it is fantastic that he is the first ever Irish holder of that belt – that is amazing.”
Nathan has his eyes firmly fixed on a title defence. The Australasian champ already knows his next opponent but says the announcement is all hush while he enjoys his short break and enjoys his victory celebrations.
“I am planning a title defence for September time and already have my next opponent.  He is someone who will definitely challenge me for the title but for now I am just going to enjoy my win and relax for a few weeks before we return to training camp.”