Olympics: Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly to up his game to face No 2 seed in Rio
Josh Kelly says he must step up his form if he is to extend his stay at the Olympics.
The Sunderland star boxed superbly to defeat Walid Mohamed on Monday night in his round of 32 welterweight contest in Rio.
But now the 22-year-old faces a herculean task against the competition’s number two seed, Daniyar Yeleussinov.
Team GB and Kazakhstan, one of the strongest boxing nations on the planet, seem to have come together like magnets in the square ring at Riocentro Pavilion 6.
Kelly’s Wearside neighbour, Pat McMormack faces Ablaikhan Zhussupov on Thursday evening at light-welter, while middleweight Antony Fowler went out to a Kazakh.
“It is a big one [ against Yeleussinov],” said the Houghton ABC star. “I have sparred with him.
“I have got to perform better than I did [against Mohamed].
“It is going to make or break the competition for all of us, whoever wins [at this stage] might go on to win the competition.”
Kelly is being a little hard on himself for his performance against the Egyptian, who is Africa’s reigning silver medallist.
The stylish Port of Call-sponsored boxer won every round for all three scoring judges to take a unanimous points verdict which impressed watching BBC expert summariser Richie Woodhall.
And Kelly admits he is still getting used to becoming an Olympian.
“It feels unreal to get that first fight over and done with,” said Kelly.
“But I have got to forget that now and push on.
“It is the Olympic Games, you have got to enjoy it and take it as it comes.”
Now Kelly hopes he can settle down against Yeleussinov and produce a performance that would rank with his very best.
“It feels good to win on my Olympic debut,” he added.
“It wasn’t my best performance.
“I tried to knock holes in him to start off with instead of boxing him, but hopefully we will see more of my boxing skills [against Yeleussinov] and it will be a good fight for all the spectators to watch.
“I felt a little bit sluggish and the timing wasn’t there but hopefully it will pick up with a bit of rest and I will come out firing on all cylinders.”