By Ollie Salt, courtesy of The Daily Star
OLEKSANDR USYK is not ready to step up and challenge Anthony Joshua at heavyweight.
That’s according to Josh Kelly, the British welterweight starlet who produced a first-round stoppage of Fabian Castillo on the undercard of Usyk’s win over Tony Bellew on Saturday night.
The Ukranian sent Bellew crashing through the ropes with the most devastating of left hands at the Manchester Arena, after an impressive start from ‘Bomber’ that saw him take a few of the early rounds, reaffirming his status as one of the leading pound-for-pound fighters in world boxing.
Now Usyk is setting his sights on the heavyweight division, and somewhere down the line, a meeting with WBA ‘Super’, IBF and WBO chief Joshua.
Yet, Kelly believes the 31-year-old is not big enough to cause him problems.
When asked on the Ringside Toe 2 Toe podcast if Usyk is ready for Joshua, he replied: “I don’t think so at the moment.
“Bellew hit him with a few shots and sort of hurt him and wobbled him a little bit and tested his chin. But I feel as though if that was the likes of Anthony Joshua hitting him on the bell I think he would have went clean out. That’s just my opinion.
“I think skill-wise he’s got it in abundance to move up to heavyweight, but I’m not sure with the size.
“Outside of the main world champions, I feel like he deals with a lot of the heavyweights.
“But when he gets to the likes of Anthony Joshua and [Deontay] Wilder, then it becomes: can he withstand the power of them sort of guys? We’ll learn and see. He’s got the skills to do it though.”
Kelly - a former Olympian who suffered defeat at the last-16 stage of the 2016 Rio games - is now 8-0 after Saturday’s win over Castillo.
In all of his professional contests to date, the 24-year-old has shown serious potential - already collecting the WBA International title and the Commonwealth title.
Many are questioning whether it’s time for him to make the step-up to world level, but Kelly insists he is relaxed about such a decision.
“Since I’ve been a kid I’ve always looked at the world championships and the world titles and getting there you have to take these little steps, but I’ve always looked at the end product,” he said.
“So for me, to win a world title is my goal, it doesn’t matter what I win on the way up. When I get there, I want to win that world title.
“If I get there by winning the British, European, Commonwealth [title], everything like that, then I get there like that. Or if I skip it and then fight for it early, I get there like that.
“It’s up to Adam [Booth] and Eddie [Hearn], that’s all the process. I’m just enjoying it at the moment. I just carry on doing what I’m doing.”