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WTF? – Karl Kelly admits Irish title shock

Jay Byrne played Santa for Karl Kelly on Christmas Eve, delivering a present that left the fighter shocked and delighted at the same time.

‘Little Sexy’s’ manager brought news of an Irish lightweight title shot just hours before the real Mr. Claus did his rounds.

Kelly [2(0)-2(0)] will take on Feargal McCrory [9(3)-0] for the green strap on the first confirmed show of 2019 at the Ulster Hall on February 9th.

The Monkstown man claims conformation of an Irish title fight in just his fifth pro fight, and following two defeats, came as a real “WTF” moment and stressed it’s an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

“Honestly, I was like ‘WTF’ when Jay text to say the fight was made on Christmas Eve,” Kelly told Irish-boxing.com.

“I was shocked and over the moon. Look it’s an Irish title shot, a fight for the top prize in this country I cannot turn it down and I genuinely feel I can win,” he added before revealing he knows little of his Tyrone opponent.

“To be honest I don’t know much about him but I’ll leave that to Jay to study,” admitted the fight-anyone Dubliner.

Considering Kelly looked odds on to rematch Martin Quinn for the BUI Celtic lightweight title after their entertaining six-round battle on ‘Celtic Clash 7’ and McCrory was involved in a war of words with BUI Celtic super featherweight champion Stephen McAfee, the announcement of the Irish lightweight title fight caught everyone by surprise.

Kelly, who has taken risks and made big step up since just his second fight, includes himself in those whose eyebrows were raised by the fight being made – but is determined to do all he can to make the most of an opportunity that came earlier than expected.

“If I win this title it would be like ‘wow, what have I done?’ but, in saying that, I do believe it’s there for me and I will try everything I can to win that title.”

Kelly’s Irish title chance comes on the back of a points win over Martin Quinn last month.

A victory that reignited his career, both he and his team were downbeat following the controversial clash.

The 24-year-old former BUI Celtic light welterweight title challenger got a dressing down from Byrne post the fight. The active fighter and manager honestly revealed he felt his fighter had lost on the night and expressed concerns with regard to the come forward heart-on-his-sleeve operators prep for such an important domestic clash.

‘The Negotiator’ had raised similar concerns earlier this year when Kelly was defeated by Lucas Ballingall in Belfast.

Indeed, BBBoC Celtic light middleweight champ Byrne issued his ‘little brother’ an ultimatum after the victory, warning he would cut ties if his fighter cut corners for a third time.

Byrne will be able to keep an closer eye on Kelly in the build up to the February 9th Ulster Hall clash as he taken over the full-time trainer reigns from Declan Geraghty Snr.

Kelly is confident the added dimension to the relationship will benefit him and enable him to perform to a higher standard in 2019.

“I have moved trainer back to Jay and I will not let him down again. If I do, I know I’m finished and I don’t want that,” he added.

“We started camp already and I am in love with boxing again. I know Jay will bring the best out of me. I gel with him and the technical stuff I learned from Deco will always benefit me, Deco is a proper good guy.”

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


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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