Knocked out? I don’t plan on getting hit – Josh Kelly

Josh Kelly (right) with promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Fowler, who also fights in Belfast tonight.
Josh Kelly (right) with promoter Eddie Hearn and Anthony Fowler, who also fights in Belfast tonight.

Josh Kelly insists he has no fears of suffering a KO in Belfast, saying he does not plan on getting hit.

The gifted Sunderland welterweight has been handed a tough match with Mexican José Luis Zúñiga over eight rounds at the SSE Arena.

Zúñiga is undefeated in over three years and has completed seven of his 13 victories inside the distance.

Throw into the mix that he is Mexico’s champion at light-middleweight, the division above Kelly, this not a straight-forward assignment for the 23-year-old.

Is Kelly, chasing his fourth straight win in the professional ranks, worried about the bout, which will be screened live on Sky Sports.

“I have a good chin, but I’m not planning on taking any shots,” smiled the Adam Booth-trained talent, who is relishing this international eight-rounder.

“Hit and not get hit, that’s the way I box.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to test myself, Zúñiga is a very durable and successful boxer, he’s only lost twice.

“But I’m looking to put on a show, as per usual.

“I enjoy boxing and love the fights and think that comes out when I’m in the ring.

“The fact he’s a champion at a higher weight is not a problem, I spar with a big, strong light-middle, Ian Williams, in the gym so I’m used to bigger fighters.

“I can’t see myself coming under pressure in that way.

“I feel good,. I feel more confident, I’ve been more worried about facing the media at the press conference here.”

That is slightly tongue-in-cheek from Kelly, who is a natural entertainer and is one of Booth and promoter Eddie Hearn’s hottest prospects.

Kelly is leading a wave of Wearside boxers going for glory inside the square ring.

Doing his second straight eight-rounder, in just his fourth bout, is evidence of the 2016 Olympian’s rapid rise to the top.

Kelly, who lives in Surrey near Booth’s gym, says he is flourishing under David Haye’s former trainer.

“Adam is buzzing,” said the ex-Houghton & District ABC boxer. “We’re expecting something big after this, but I must beat Zúñiga first.”

Booth is a busy man at the SSE Arena as he will be in the corner of Ryan Burnett in the headline bout.

Belfast hero Burnett makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight title while looking to add the WBA super-title in a unification scrap with Kazakhstan’s Zhakiyanov.