Jay Byrne admits Karl Kelly may have to retire following Irish title loss

Brutally honest yet again, Jay Byrne has admitted that it might be preferable if Karl Kelly called it a day.

Having watched ‘Little Sexy” entertain but ultimately suffer defeat in another war last Saturday, his coach and manager believes he is too brave and blood thirsty for his own good.

Kelly [2(0)-3(1)] earned the respect of the crowd in a brawl at the Ulster Hall but the well supported Feargal McCrory came away with the lightweight Irish title after nine bloody rounds on the ‘A Night to Remember Card’.

The performance of the Dubliner filled Byrne with pride, but also worry and he wonders if Kelly would be best served hanging them up.

“I’ll be straight and say I would prefer if Karl didn’t fight again,” the straight up BBBoC light middleweight champion told Irish-Boxing.com.

“I worry about the style he loves so much. He loves being involved in wars and he is always wanting a good aul’ fight.”

It would be a shame to see such an entertainer, who has campaigned between super feather and light welter, exit after just five pro fights but a fighter’s safety always has to be paramount.

It also has to be noted that Kelly, who trouble McCrory in the middle rounds, has fought just one journeyman to date.

After defeating Damian Lawniczak, the boxer with comparatively limited amateur background but semi-pro experience fought Lucas Ballingall in his second fight before facing Victor Rabei for the BUI Celtic title.

Another all-Irish fight against Martin Quinn followed, were he claimed a controversial win, before last Saturday’s reverse to McCrory.

The Monkstown’s man has certainly earned some learning fights and, considering he has been competitive in all his step ups, could be some fine tuning away from some more domestic glory – not to mention that a Quinn rematch remains massively appealing.

However, Byrne claims Kelly wants to be tested all the time and lives for away corner opportunities.

The Loughlinstown fight figure outlined how “the thing is with Karl he doesn’t want easy fights and I understand that.”

“We worked on a lot of small things to prevent taking shots but once he was in there and Feargal started fighting with him Karl just loved standing and having a fight rather than being smart and doing the little things we worked on.”

“I don’t have anything negative to say about his efforts. His instinct is to just fight and stand a have a war, but I look at his condition after the fight and have to ask is it worth it to constantly have these wars and constantly end up needing stitches and that as I have to look after his health first.”

While Byrne may prefer not to see the man he views as a little brother fight again, he still holds massive respect for a fighter with cannons for balls.

He hurt for Kelly after the ninth round stoppage, but juxtaposed that emotion with deep pride.

It wasn’t just the performance Byrne was proud of Saturday either. having been upset with Kelly’s prep for Martin Quinn last time, he was delighted with how focused his charge was throughout camp for the McCrory fight.

Byrne noted how “he is a credit to himself and I say again that I’m shocked he can’t sell tickets as he’s a lovely kid and 100% gives fans their money’s worth.

“That’s the problem these days it’s not what you bring to the table it’s how popular you are that makes it in this sport.”

“Rewind to before Christmas when he fought Martin and he gassed out in two to three rounds whereas he never took a backward step on Saturday.”

“He went into the ninth round in a fight that was a pure war from round one. He prepared correct and I am very proud of him. He is a great kid and will always be close to my heart.”


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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com