A local headliner is in store for Josh Kelly.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are in place for the 2012 Great Britain Olympian and current junior middleweight contender to headline a December 16 DAZN show from his hometown of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK. An opponent was not yet confirmed for the occasion, though International Boxing News—whose X account was the first to report the development—has revealed that South Africa’s Roarke Knapp is the frontrunner to land the fight.
The event would give DAZN a bicontinental one-two punch for the day and evening. The sports streaming service is confirmed to present the terrific Sunny Edwards-Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez IBF/WBO flyweight title unification later that evening from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
It goes without saying that more eyes will be on that fight than the next step taken by Kelly (14-1-1, 7KOs), though the 29-year-old attempts to at least put his best foot forward.
Kelly is coming off a virtual shutout win over unbeaten Argentinean boxer Gabriel Alberto Corzo on July 15 in Newcastle, UK. He won the DAZN-aired headliner by scores of 120-107, 120-107 and 117-110 to earn his fourth straight victory since a sixth-round stoppage to David Avanesyan in February 2020 at OVO Arena Wembley.
All four bouts under the current win streak have come since Kelly signed with Wasserman Boxing, headed by Kalle and Nisse Sauerland who have entered a network deal with DAZN earlier this year.
Knapp (17-1-1, 12KOs) would fight outside of his native South Africa for the first time once terms are finalized. The 25-year-old fringe contender has won seven in a row, the most recent of which came in a fifth-round knockout of Poland’s Przemyslaw Zysk on September 2 in Kempton Park.
Kelly is currently ranked number one at junior middleweight by the WBO. The sanctioning body’s divisional title is held by Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17KOs), who defends versus Brian Mendoza this weekend on Showtime from Broadbeach, Australia. Kelly could land as the mandatory challenger for the winner of the bout, provided he extends his win streak with this suggested contest later in the year.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox