Josh Kelly insists his party days are over – until the day he turns his talent into medals.
The Sunderland boxer has gone out of the Olympics after losing to number two seed, Daniyar Yeleussinov.
But far from demoralising the 22-year-old, his unanimous points defeat to the gifted Kazakhstan southpaw has only made him more determined to go all the way in the sport.
Kelly admitted in the dark days of winter he left the gym to hit the town with his pals and allowed his weight to balloon.
The Houghton ABC man got back on track after a heart-to-heart with dad, Paul, and qualified for Rio in June.
He started superbly at his debut Olympics by beating Egypt’s Walid Mohamed in the round of 32 but was forced to give second best last night to world number one Yeleussinov.
“This experience has convinced me that I’m not going to go back out partying,” said Kelly.
“I want to be the one getting the experience and going on to win medals.”
All three judges, from Brazil, Sweden and Vietnam, made Yeleussinov the winner 30-27 in the round of 16 contest.
Kelly was given a huge reception by the crowd at Riocentro Pavilion 6, but was then given a warm reception from the Kazakh.
Yeleussinov was straight into it with his southpaw jab finding the face of his opponent and an aggressive right hook forced Josh to touch the canvas with his glove, though the Sri Lankan ref did not rule it as a knockdown.
The first two shots of round two came from Yeleussinov, but a right from Kelly raised the crowd who got behind the Brit.
Josh did get his jab going but Yeleussinov ended the round with a right-left combination to take the middle session as well.
The Port Of Call-sponsored boxer, to his credit, came forward in the last and produced some good work in close to get the fans chanting “Kelly, Kelly, Kelly”.
Indeed, the Ryhope fighter gave as good as he got in the last including a strong right in the final seconds of the bout.
The European Games bronze medallist could not find a KO punch and Yeleussinov was declared winner but Kelly could be proud of a tremendous effort.