By Elliot Foster, photo by Lawrence Lustig
Josh Kelly produced an almost punch-perfect display to retain his undefeated record and move into 2018 with a bang.
The Sunderland prospect, who was part of the Team GB setup for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, is just 23 years old and after stepping up to the 10-round distance and getting rid of Jean Michel Hamilcaro inside six rounds, he will be looking to move on to title level.
His promoter Eddie Hearn revealed after the fight that Matchroom have signed him to a new three-year deal and, with just five fights under his belt, it looks like he will be pushing towards British, Commonwealth and European titles at welterweight.
Kelly was fighting on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s WBA female lightweight title defence against Jessica McCaskill at Bethnal Green’s famous York Hall venue, exclusively live on Sky Sports.
He hurt Hamilcaro with several lefts before a right to the body floored the 31-year-old. And although another left hand forced the visitor, who had five weeks’ notice, to the canvas again, he rose.
The end, however, looked inevitable and Ian-John Lewis, after two minutes and six seconds of the sixth, called a halt to proceedings and led Hamilcaro back to his corner, leaving Kelly to celebrate before promoter Hearn’s comments about a bright New Year.
It was also revealed that Kelly had signed a three-year promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing.
“I’m thrilled to sign this deal with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom,” said Kelly. “Adam and Eddie have got big plans for me and with them and the backing of Sky Sports, I’m so excited about the future.
“That was another important learning fight for me tonight. He was meant to really test me but once I tagged him early, he didn’t really want to know. I stayed patient, listened to Adam and got him out of there.
“I’ll go down any path that Adam and Eddie lead me to – I trust them both 100 per cent to really take me to the top. I hope that I can fight for the British title in the first half of the year and take it from there.”
“We have huge plans for Josh in 2018 and we’re going to hit the ground running early,” said Hearn. “I believe Josh is the complete package and is the man to take huge fights to the North East.
“Adam 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.”