By Keith Idec
Josh Kelly will face an experienced former world champion in just his sixth pro bout.
Promoter Eddie Hearn announced Wednesday that the British welterweight prospect will meet Mexican veteran Carlos Molina on the Anthony Joshua-Joseph Parker undercard March 31 in Cardiff, Wales. Molina lost back-to-back unanimous decisions in 2017, yet still represents a noteworthy step up in competition for the 24-year-old Kelly.
“[Trainer] Adam Booth said it’s time for me to step up, so let’s go,” Kelly said. “I feel this is a real test against a proven fighter. He’s a former world champion, so you can’t deny this is my biggest fight to date. I can’t wait to step between those ropes in Cardiff and propel myself into the mix.”
Facing Molina on the Joshua-Parker undercard also is a high-profile opportunity for the 2016 Olympian. A capacity crowd in excess of 78,000 is expected to pack Principality Stadium that night.
Kelly (5-0, 4 KOs) wants to become the first fighter to knock out the 34-year-old Molina (28-8-2, 8 KOs), a Chicago resident who held the IBF junior middleweight title from September 2013 until October 2014.
“He’s never been stopped, so it says a lot,” Kelly said. “Just look at the names on his record, that he’s been in with. I know how tough he will be. I want to perform on the big stage. I’m very excited to say the least.
“I feel physically, mentally and emotionally ready to take this step up and have been for a fight or two. I’ve learned a lot in the fights and in training over the past year, and also got to know myself even more.”
Kelly most recently stopped France’s Jean Michel Hamilcaro (25-9-3, 6 KOs) in the sixth round December 13 in London. He has won four straight bouts by knockout.
Molina dropped unanimous decisions in consecutive fights in the home countries of his opponents last year.
The Dominican Republic’s Carlos Adames (13-0, 11 KOs) beat him July 26 in Santo Domingo. France’s Ahmed El Mousaoui (27-3-1, 6 KOs) defeated Molina on October 14 in Paris.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.