O’Tooles have pulled off a stunning coup by signing a top world amateur boxer who will be trained in Newcastle by Glenn McCrory.

North-East fight figure, Neil Conlon, the man behind the O’Tooles gym in Byker, is bringing the Ukraine’s Aleksandr Trifonov to Tyneside and he “expects” this ‘beast from the east’ to be “pushing for a world title” by 2022.

The 29-year-old cruiserweight, a long-time rival and friend of one of the planet’s greatest fighters, undisputed cruiser champ Oleksandr Usyk, is due in the North-East in the next 10 weeks.

“This lad is something special,” Neil told punch-lines. “He’s won titles all over Europe and the world.

“I think of the 240 amateur fights he’s had he’s won something like 222, including one against Usyk who has beaten him a couple of times.

“I’ve been trying to get him over here for around nine months and it’s taken a helluva lot of patience.

“Now it’s happening there is a great sense of achievement and huge satisfaction.

“He’ll work and train out of O’Tooles and he’ll be trained by Glenn, who knows a thing or two about the cruiserweight division.

“This is not only brilliant moment for me but it’s a life-changing event for Alex.

“He’ll be training in our state-of-the-art gym with a man of Glenn’s expertise and experience.

“We’ll take Alex anywhere in the world, we’re that confident in him.

“I expect him to be pushing for a world title in the next two and a half years.”

Alex (pictured right with WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO king Usyk) has already had a taste of the North-East, having enjoyed a spell here five years ago as an amateur, boxing out of the famed Birtley club.

The boxer, who will be managed by Steve Wraith, came to the region with a friend of Conlon’s to work but returned to the Ukraine once his visa expired.

“Alex won the Haringey Cup in 2014 while he was here,” explained Neil. “I sent him to Birtley to be with the best amateur coach in the country, Graeme Rutherford.

“I remember phoning Graeme not long after he had come here and said ‘what do you think?’.

“When Graeme said ‘I wouldn’t say he was the best I’ve coached’ my heart sank and there was a pause before he added ‘He’s the best I’ve ever seen’. “Alex was a supreme amateur and with Glenn guiding him I truly believe he’ll go all the way as a pro.”

Words: Roy Kelly