The entertaining lightweight has gained respect from the Irish fight family for his willingness to battle undefeated fighters in just his second and third pro bouts. Indeed, serious displays of heart an effort against Lucas Ballingall and Victor Rabei only saw respect levels rise.
However, he claims he has been told and knows that another all-action display against Martin Quinn [2(0)-0] on what is fast becoming a sensational ‘Celtic Clash 7’ card on November 24th won’t be good enough.
‘Little Sexy’ is adamant defeat is not an option and claims suffering loss at the gloves of the Crumlin BC graduate would end any title dreams he holds.
Good Counsel in Drimnagh plays host to a bout between Kelly and a third consecutive unbeaten prospect. That, aligned with the fact he competes in just his fourth pro outing, suggests that the pressure could be off, so to speak, but the Jay Byrne-managed fighter argues otherwise.
“I have to win this,” he told Irish-Boxing.com not long after the six-rounder, which is acting as something of a BUI Celtic title eliminator, was officially announced.
“Jay has made it clear to me that a loss is unthinkable. It is a 50/50 that I have to win or my career of doing anything is over.”
There is pressure going into the clash for the come-forward Monkstown brawler but he is confident he will emerge from one of three highly anticipated all-Irish clashes on the bill.
“I’ll win and I’ll win in style and show that I am in the mix on this domestic scene.”
“I feel I am better than Martin at everything in the ring and I’ve fought way better than him and he has no chance of stopping me if they couldn’t.”
While the recent BUI Celtic light welterweight title challenger is confident of victory, he is honest enough to admit it won’t come easy.
Indeed, he seems to be as excited about the prospect of a war as he is about winning.
“This is going to be a cracker,” the excited Kelly added.
“Martin is a great lad and sound bloke, he was part of the semi-pro crew and we’ve sparred a few times. He’s tough and can box for sure.”
“I just hope he makes this fight and nothing gets in the way of this one.”
“Honestly it’s gonna be a war – a war I think I will win,” he added before stressing he hopes a win leads to another BUI Celtic title shot.
“I will win this. I seen in an article it could be the Celtic title for the winner and that would be another dream. Imagine I could be in two title fights inside five fights – but, lookm I have to win against Martin first.”
Just like some did when his manager Jay Byrne started to take on some big prospects on Matchroom shows, if Kelly continues to suffer defeats some may label him a ‘journeyman’.
However, the new to the game pro argues against that notion and makes a strong argument. In the Irish and British context, a journeyman is not necessarily someone who suffers defeats but is someone who accepts defeat before he enters the ring.
Kelly claims his desire to be in good fights from the off doesn’t allow him to accumulate pushover wins and the fact he enters every fight with victory as the goal proves he is anything but journeyman.
“I’ve said from day one I want to fight and I want a career like Jay’s.”
“I want to be in good and meaningful fights. This is opponent number three with an unbeaten record so that shows what I’m about.”
“And let’s get this straight, I am not a journeyman. I come to win and don’t give an easy night’s work to anyone. If you take risks early you shouldn’t be called a journeyman.”
The Rabei and Ballingal fights may have come out of a desire to register a big win early doors, but there is an air of necessity about them too. Considering he admits that he isn’t the biggest of ticket sellers, Kelly knows racking up easy wins is not an option for him.
“See, I don’t do a huge huge amount of tickets so I won’t be on shows all the time. I just can’t do enough tickets to cover the costs of journeymen and show costs. I don’t mind fighting for free but the costs have to be paid.”
“Sometimes I would even struggle with the 60-70 tickets needed to break even,” the honest puncher continued.
“So, this next fight is the type of fights I get. It means no worrying and panicking about selling tickets and trying to raise money to pay journeymen, plus these are fights that I love.”
Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)