Runner-up at the Elite Senior championships last year, the Ballynacargy light welter has been mightily impressive thus far with unanimous quarter and semi-final wins over Matthew McCole and Keith Flavin respectively.
On Friday gone, the southpaw was one of the stand-outs of the semis, giving last year’s U22 champion Flavin a count in the third round and cruising into the final where he will face Belfast talent Caoimhin Ferguson.
Kelly spoke to Irish-Boxing.com afterwards who said that he was “happy to get the win.”
“I felt comfortable throughout, I was picking my shot wells.”
“I caught him, put him down, and started to load up. I was a bit stupid. He was tough and he came on strong, after I caught him, he got back up and recovered well.”
The 21-year-old looked as though he was a weight class above on Friday and he noted how “I’m filling out very well now.”
“I’m still young, but I feel like I’m getting stronger every year. I’m still finding that man strength, but I’m developing and that’s a good thing when you’re an Elite boxer. I’m strong at the weight, and I don’t think anyone will be able to stick it.”
The Westmeath fighter is now boxing out of Portlaoise BC under former IABA President Pat Ryan, a move which has reinvigorated Kelly.
He explained how “we were in Ballynacargy, myself and my brother, two senior boxers and the rest kids, my dad was the coach. We needed to change things up and Pat was the man for that.”
“Pat, he didn’t try to change too much. He worked on some things he noticed, switched a few things up. but Pat’s a good coach, he’s been around a long time, we’ve been away to tournaments and sparring camps with him since we were schoolboys.”
Kelly now wants to make up for his defeat to European Games bronze medalist Sean McComb last year. With the reigning champion out, he will face Ulsters runner-up Ferguson, who too has been impressive and comes to these championships as one of the most improved fighters in the country.
While still young himself, Kelly is boxing in his fourth ‘Seniors’ and approaches his second final with a cool head.
The midlander outlined how “against Sean, I was coming in off an injury, but he was the sharper boxer. He’s going to the Commonwealth Games and I wish and all the team him the best.”
“I’ve never boxed him [Ferguson] before, I think I saw him fight once a while ago. I’ll have a look back at a video of him and get a gameplan.”