By Keith Idec
According to promoter Eddie Hearn, the next step for Josh Kelly could be a fight in the United States.
The unbeaten British welterweight prospect improved to 7-0 on Saturday night and recorded his fifth knockout by stopping a battered Kris George following seven rounds in Newcastle, England.
The 2016 Olympian has remained very active since making his pro debut in April 2017, and Hearn wants that trend to continue for the 24-year-old Kelly, a native of Sunderland, England.
Hearn’s Matchroom USA will promote numerous cards in the United States once his eight-year, potential $1 billion streaming partnership with Perform Group kicks off later this year. That’ll enable Kelly to get some exposure there.
“Seven fights in, he’s WBA intercontinental champion, [British] commonwealth champion, top 15 in the world,” Hearn told Sky Sports following Kelly’s victory over George. “But [trainer] Adam [Booth] wants to move him fast, and I think he’s going to need challenges at those next levels. He’s just won the commonwealth title easily, without getting into second gear, so how many levels does Adam want to move to next? I would like to take him to America, and box him over there.”
Kelly’s first seven fights all have taken place throughout the United Kingdom, where boxing is one of the most popular sports. He has fought in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales thus far.
“Obviously, it’s been a wonderful night here in Newcastle,” Hearn said. “Brilliant to come back to the northeast, and he’s part of that as well. Massive future.
“But just seven fights in, already ranked, and I think he’s going to be needed to be tested and tested. And that’s where you’re going to see the true class of Josh Kelly come out.”
Kelly is not currently ranked in the top 15 by the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC or WBO. That could change, of course, after his win against Australia’s George (14-2, 8 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.