Introducing: Karl Kelly

Karl Kelly enters the Irish pro ranks amidst an unprecedented wave of new additions, but the Dublin welterweight feels he has the power to stand out from the crowd.

A real heavy-hitter, the St Margaret’s boxer moves into the paid game with a reputation for fireworks and knockouts

This reputation has been forged over the past few years following a link up with Jay Byrne, who will manage Kelly in the pros.

The Dubliner explained to how “I’ve boxed since I was a young kid and always dreamed of being a pro.”

“As an amateur I won the Dublin Leagues as a kid, but when I went to Jay gym three years ago my life changed, he changed everything and literally did everything for me. We get on so well and he fixed a lot of mistakes I was making.”

Byrne has been behind Kelly at both amateur and semi-pro level ahead of the move to the pros confirmed at the start of the week.

This time has seen plenty of inside the distance wins, with Kelly recalling how “I had seven amateur fights under Jay and won five by KO, before that I had no knockouts.”

“I won a Dublin and Leinster Intermediate title, and I was runner up in the National Intermediates to James Cleary.”

Following this, Kelly would test the waters on the two-minute rounds semi-pro circuit before committing to the pro game, again backed by Byrne – who was an accomplished semi-pro fighter himself.

Kelly described how Byrne “brought me to England to fight over four rounds for a Four Nations semi pro title and I won by KO also, then we went to Liverpool to fight over 10 rounds for a European semi-pro title and I won by KO again! In my home semi-pro debut and stopped my opponent with a body shot.”

Watch Karl Kelly’s homecoming knockout below:

His final semi-pro fight came in February over eight rounds for the Irish title. Here, at Stradbrook Rugby Club, Kelly was outpointed by Stephen McAfee, who has also since moved to the pros.

Looking back on the fight, Kelly laments his preparations and cited them as a real wake-up call ahead of his planned move into the professional ranks.

He reasoned how “I lost on points, but I blame on my fitness and lack of commitment in camp – which will never happen again.”

“The semi-pros were best thing I’ve ever done and I learned so much. Now this is the next step.”

A debut date for Kelly, who is currently joined in the Jay Byrne stable by Manny Bique and Jake Hanney, will be announced shortly.

In terms of what to expect, he states that “I’m a fighter and I like to throw bombs. Expect fireworks.”

“The team Jay has around me now will perfect all my flaws and I’m buzzing to get going.”

“Jay told me he wont rush me, that it’s time to put head down and learn. I will be serving a proper apprenticeship over the next 12 to 18 months as I’m only young.”

“He told me I will become Irish champion at least.”

“But I need to learn how to be professional and how to deal with all that it takes to be a proper pro person – not just a boxer.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: