The fresh to the game super featherweight takes on an undefeated English prospect in just second fight as a pro when he travels to Belfast to fight on an MHD show at the Europa Hotel on Saturday February 3rd.
Furthermore, opponent Lucas Ballingall’s unbeaten status isn’t one of those optical illusions, nor is he a fighter with an 0 for sale – he is a genuine prospect with big ambitions.
It represents a massive risk for the Declan Geraghty-trained former semi pro banger. Indeed, it is a move that has prompted questions from fight fans and the answers may be found in the fact Kelly’s manager is none other than Jay Byrne.
BUI Celtic welterweight champion Byrne has over the last 12 months proven himself a risk taker and it seems he has passed the gene onto his prodigy.
While he was recently earmarked by Boxing News as one to watch in 2017, 21 year old Ballingall doesn’t quite have the backing as the likes of Felix Cash, Anthony Fowler, or Josh Kelly, nor will the Sky cameras be present, but there are ‘take your chance’ similarities.
Also like Byrne was when he fought the on Matchroom shows, Kelly is confident he can cause an upset and thus propel his career forward – indeed a victory would be like winning the lottery (and speaking about lottery, you can play Irish lottery here if you’re feeling lucky).
“Jay sat me down and discussed the pluses and negatives on this fight and we really believe it’s a fight I can win,” Kelly told Irish-Boxing.com.
“In saying that, it’s a fight nobody probably thinks I can win, but I don’t care as nobody thought Jay would [beat Gerard Whitehouse and] win his title and he did.”
“I don’t want to just fight handy journeymen fights. I wanna take chances and compete against the best I can.”
The rewards are there for Kelly if he does manage to win, but they are not the only reason he agreed to the fight.
The Dubliner doesn’t seem to think the risk is as high as people suggest and having studied his foe his team feel he has the potential to cause an upset.
Team Kelly are not trying to be brave and have put a lot of thought into the Belfast hosted clash.
“Of course he’ll be confident coming over. He’s unbeaten and talented but you can’t put talent or muscle on your chin. If I land on his chin, he better be able to take a bang as I can wallop.”
“Look, Jay believes in me and Declan [Geraghty] agrees with what Jay said about taking this fight. The three of us sat and discussed it and I know what I have to do to cause the upset.”
“If I was to lose it’s not the end of the world but if I win I skip ahead of the rest and I’ll be ready then for a domestic showdown with one the other lads in my weight.”
Speaking of domestic showdowns the aggressive puncher has somehow already opened up a pro grudge with former Crumlin amateur Aiden Metcalfe.
Both have just one fight to their name, both against Damian Lawniczak, but both have still managed to verbal spar to the degree that it is a fight die hards are already discussing.
Reflecting on that spat he claims he attempted to settle it in the ring, but was denied the chance by his potential rival.
“Aidan spoke about fighting me and I asked Jay to get it, he done all he could – he contacted his management and they said they’d agree once Aidan agreed, Aidan wouldn’t agree.”
“He then said he wanted it at featherweight when he hasn’t hit featherweight in years as his debut was near 60kg. He weighed in for his semi pro fight at 61kg and he fought last as an amateur at 64kg, I agreed to 59.8kg and he refused that too. That was even with Jay offering to pay him for the fight. ”
“All that shows how serious he was about the fight so that’s put to bed I move on and good luck to him,” Kelly added before reflecting on his October debut win.
“We watched the debut back and, although it got good reviews, I wasn’t vicious enough. I hadn’t that same aggression I usually have. I’ve been learning every day since Declan took over my coaching and that was shown in that fight, I was happy to win and I can’t wait for a busy year.”