Trainer Adam Booth recently described Josh Kelly is the most talented fighter he's ever worked with, so why the hype?
At 23 years old, Kelly is undoubtedly one of Britain’s most exciting young prospects, a point emphasized by the setup around him.
The 5-foot 10-inch fighter is trained by the experienced Adam Booth, notable for his work with David Haye, and managed by Eddie Hearn’s promotional juggernaut, Matchroom.
The 2016 Rio Olympian’s talents have already attracted sponsorship from JD Sports, impressive considering “Pretty Boy” has fought just five times professionally. Staggeringly, all five victories came within nine months of Kelly's first year as a pro.
And in those five bouts Kelly boasts an 80% knockout ratio, having stopped Jony Vina, Tom Whitfield, Jose Luis Zungia, and most recently Jean Michel Hamilcaro on the Taylor-McCaskill undercard in Zuniga Hall, Bethnal Green; a fight that saw Kelly step up a level.
The Sunderland-born puncher tends to taunt his opponents by leaving his hands by his side, and excites boxing fans with speed and flair, a style which prompted Hearn into offering Kelly a new bumper three-year deal.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Hearn said:
“We have huge plans for Josh in 2018 and we’re going to hit the ground running early. I believe Josh is the complete package and is the man to take huge fights to the North East.
“Adam [Booth] and the team will call the shots but I know they are already talking about big-named fighters already.
"That means it’s an exciting time for Josh and for fight fans up in the North East.”
Kelly has an impressive amateur pedigree, and has quickly gained much attention on the domestic scene.
Kelly won his first major tournament six years ago, aged 17, finishing first in the British Junior Championships, then progressing to capture two more winners medals in the English and British Youth National Championships two years later.
"Pretty Boy" caught the eye of England selectors and found himself in the team heading to Yerevan, Armenia for the AIBA Youth World Championships, gaining a third place medal.
Kelly was selected to represent Team GB at the 2015 European Games in Baku alongside Joe Joyce and two-time Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams. In Baku, Kelly achieved bronze after a tough fight with eventual gold medalist Parviz Baghirov of Azerbaijan.
Kelly's Baku battle earned him a place at the Rio Olympic games. However, Kelly was beaten in the Round of 16 by Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yeleussinov.
Does Kelly have what it takes to make it all the way to world title level? I certainly think so, due to his silky skills, impressive footwork, hard punching, and sound amateur schooling. However, nothing can be certain until Josh Kelly proves himself against a higher class of opponent.
Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.