By Chris Williamson
Hot welterweight prospect Josh Kelly chalked up the sixth straight win of his professional ledger with a very solid ten round decision over former IBF super welterweight champion Carlos Molina.
The Mexican Molina presented a significant step up in quality for Kelly, having mixed with the likes of Erislandy Lara, Kermit Cintron, James Kirkland, Cory Spinks, Ishe Smith and Cornelius Bundradge through a fifteen year career.
Former amateur star Kelly smiled at friends and family just behind me, oozing the confidence of a fighter who enters to Michael Jackson’s ‘Pretty Young Thing’.
Despite the quality of opponent, Kelly barely changed his approach dancing around the ring with hands down and relying on superb reflexes to duck and slip the visitor’s punches.
Kelly’s jab was sharp and hurtful and when he puts his hooks together in combination he really is a joy to watch, aesthetically similar - dare I say it - to Terry Norris.
By the seventh round Kelly was having fun, bouncing up and down throwing an impressive variety of punches at Molina and almost showboating when on the defensive.
Kelly’s dominance continued in the eighth, as the Sunderland man hurt Molina with a right uppercut and continued the clowning with a short variation on the Ali shuffle.
By the ninth, Kelly briefly turned southpaw before continuing the assault from his familiar orthodox stance. Molina trudged back to his corner looking defiant but resigned to the loss.
Kelly underlined his dominance in a final round in which he slipped Molina’s hooks beautifully while punishing the tough former champ.
The judges scored it 98-92 twice and 99-91.
After the fight, Kelly said: "He was hard to catch clean and I was getting caught with a few shots so, sometimes, I went on the back foot.
"I didn't want to hurt the hands too much because we have big plans for another fight in June.
"You couldn't switch off in there because Molina was always there. He was that slow that it made him very awkward.
Promoter Eddie Hearn added: "Kelly oozed class in there and he will next be out in Newcastle on June 16."