Jay Byrne heaps pressure on debutant Josh Kelly ahead of Glasgow battle

The pressure is on the latest Team GB 2016 Olympian to turn pro claims his first paid opponent.

Dublin’s Jay Byrne [4(1)-1(0)] has secured a second successive clash on a Matchroom show and fights a fighter Eddie Hearn and co have high hopes for.

‘The Negotiator’ takes on Sunderland’s Josh Kelly over six on the undercard of the Ricky Burns v Julius Indongo light welterweight unification clash at the SSE Arena in Glasgow on Saturday April 15th.

It’s a pro debut for the highly-rated Rio Olympian and European Games bronze medalist who has linked up with trainer Adam Booth and is tipped to be the man to bring big time boxing back to England’s North East.

Having lost to Felix Cash last time out, there are some questioning whether or not 30 year old welterweight Byrne is veering toward ‘opponent’ mode.

However, anyone who has spent time with the determined and focused novice pro knows that when Byrne takes such fights it’s because he wants the rewards that the risks provide.

Indeed, Byrne is confident he can cause an upset fighting closer to his natural weight and believes the fact he demanded a six rounder could suit him come April 15th.

“I have watched this lad and, personally, I think Cash is a level above him. Taking it back to 71kg [156lbs] means I’ll be better equipped to perform – plus I shouldn’t be struggling with size at all,” Byrne told Irish-Boxing.com.

The Loughlinstown man indeed believes that ‘Pretty Boy’ will be feeling the heat come fight time, noting how “the pressure is on him as it’s his debut.”

“It is a six rounder too and they wanted a four, I refused four. I knew that would suit him, six is an advantage for me.”

“The debut nerves, pressure, and extra rounds is a lot for him. Rounds four to six will be tough, tough rounds for him. If he ain’t able to cope, I think I could cause an upset this time.”

Hearn, and most watching, were impressed with how tough Byrne was when put in against a natural middleweight on St Patrick’s Day. Indeed the Matchroom boss thought enough of the Dubliner to invite him back.

However, there is no doubt that Byrne is traveling to Scotland as an opponent but he believes he has been picked to test the debutant. However, the self-managed fighter plans to go one further and has no problem upsetting Hearns plans.

“I think Eddie knows that Josh will have his hands full and maybe wants to see what he has and that’s why I’ve been chosen. Them again, maybe he thinks Josh might be a different level, and after my performance against Cash, that he may look good from the start.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie