Huge talents, no doubt, but Ireland’s new light welterweight champion has made it clear – he is now the man to beat.
Wayne Kelly claimed a first Elite Senior title at the weekend in what was his fourth attempt and after finishing runner-up last year.
It was a breakthrough moment for the Ballynacargy boxer, and he wants to now use the platform to build, develop, and himself have a very big part in the 64kg discussion over the next few years.
“I’m now number one,” he told Irish-Boxing.com on Saturday night following his final win over Caoimhin Ferguson.
“Let the other boys worry about me and, when we come back in November, I’m the main man. I feel like I’m on top and ready to do it now again in November.”
By November, Kelly is referring to the 2019 Elite Senior Championships which have been brought forward to facilitate preparation for Olympic qualification tournaments. Indeed 2018 itself is a quiet year in terms of major tournaments – however, Kelly sees it as the perfect opportunity to improve and tighten his grip on the spot.
The Portlaoise BC southpaw is looking forward to “a year’s experience training in the High Performance with Zaur [Antia], Dima [Dmitruk], and with Pat Ryan my club coach.”
“I’ll be getting the best of training and I’ll go to America now in two weeks for the three-fight city tour. That’s a big one, I’ll get good experience over there. There’ll be other multi-nations and international tournaments throughout the year
“It’s all experience for the big one in November, the main one.”
In terms of his final, Kelly claimed a unanimous decision win over Belfast teenager Ferguson in a high-quality bout.
The 22-year-old noted how “he was a good fighter with a mixed style. Two southpaws at middle distance, the two of us were looking for shots, and I was winning the exchanges.”
“I felt comfortable throughout. The jab was working every time I threw it, it landed. Maybe I could have done a bit more with my jab, but I felt I won well.”
“That’s my eighth Irish title, I’ve been winning them from Schoolboy to Junior to Youth to Under 22 and now the big one, Senior Elite.”
“I feel brilliant, over the moon, it’s a dream come true.”