Could a USA professional debut finally be on the cards for Sunderland’s Josh Kelly?
Trainer Adam Booth expects an announcement to be made on his welterweight disciple’s next step this week with a two-fight plan already pencilled in for the slick 24-year-old.
Promoter Eddie Hearn says Kelly is likely to be out next on April 20 at London’s O2 Arena, as one of the supports on a heavyweight stacked card with Dillian Whyte as the headline act.
But what lies in wait for part two of the Kelly comeback, after what has been a frustrating winter for the former Team GB amateur star?
The smart money has to be on a long-awaited trip Stateside.
Rumours have been rife Kelly would make his US debut in 2018, but becoming a dad put the breaks on things then the David Avanesyan debacle ensued, meaning the last 12 months did not end with the flourish it began for the Commonwealth champion.
Quite frankly the behaviour of the Avanesyan team was a joke.
Kelly was called a ducker, a bottle job, all the names under the sun after illness forced him to withdraw from their scheduled fight on December 8.
The Ryhope lad is quiet and unassuming by nature out the ring, but an animal in it. Ducking doesn’t seem like it’s in his nature.
Conor Benn is the latest fighter to come out and stick it to Kelly.
While Benn’s father Nigel was an absolute Trojan, his son has not shown anywhere near as much ability.
And even though he is the more experienced of the fighters, he’d be in for the shock of his life if his dream of a dust up with Kelly comes to fruition before the year is out.
Boxing is all about levels, and at this stage in their respective developments, as I suspect will be the case for the remainder of their careers, Kelly is head and shoulders above Benn.
If he keeps running his mouth, he might be about to find that out sooner rather than later.
Forget Benn, and Avanesyan for now, though, an April date then a possible slot on the Anthony Joshua v Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller card at Madison Square Garden in early June would be just the ticket for Kelly.
His style is one for the purists, it’s a style perfectly suited to boxing stateside.
His ring elegance, speed and sharpness will be appreciated no end on the other side of the pond, and it also brings him right on the radar of those at the very top of the welterweight division - probably the strongest weight class in world boxing at the moment, stacked with pound-for-pound candidates at its summit.
Booth expects Kelly to be in that mix in the next 18 months - and that’s why his next steps are so crucial. Ananesyan and Benn’s taunts will look very silly should Kelly fulfil his promise and break on the world scene in 2019, as Booth so boldly predicts.