Rising Sunderland star Josh Kelly ready for next big step

Josh Kelly (left) with latest rival Jean Michel Hamilcaro yesterday.
Josh Kelly (left) with latest rival Jean Michel Hamilcaro yesterday.
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Josh Kelly has it all – incredible talent, Hollywood looks, an Olympic tattoo, a few quid in the bank, and he’s from Sunderland.

But Kelly joked that he’s missing one thing – a title.

It’s no shock given that tonight he climbs through the ropes as a professional for only the fifth time.

The gifted Ryhope mover takes on the vastly experienced Jean Michel Hamilcaro over 10 rounds at the York Hall in London’s Eastend on the undercard of Katie Taylor’s maiden world title defence.

Kelly is destined for a world championship shot of his own and very soon if Booth has his way.

The South Londoner, who coached David Haye to the world heavyweight glory, is in a rush with Kelly, who says he is getting better every day in his trainer’s gym, even if he is taking bit of stick from his stablemates.

“It’s great being with Adam and the boys in the gym,” said the 23-year-old. “Adam knows the game inside out and he knows what we must do every day to improve, so we just follow him to the letter.

“He’s giving me so much confidence and training alongside world champions is incredible for me.

“I’m sparring brilliant fighters, world champions and class acts, and holding my own, it gives you such confidence.

“Adam has brought my natural skills to the fore and I’m really flowing when I fight.

“He’s also taught me a lot about myself too and I think I’m growing as a person with him too, which is important.

“All the other boys in the gym have won belts and they’re beginning to wind me up about not having one, so hopefully that’s next.”

Knowing Booth’s ambition and the confidence he has in the man known as “Pretty Boy”, that could come sooner than anyone thinks.

Tonight’s match with Hamilcaro does provide a step up in quality and quantity for Kelly.

The Frenchman is 31 and has tons of experience with 36 bouts under his belt, with only eight defeats, the majority at championship level.

Hamilcaro comes into the event in good confidence, having clinched the IBF Mediterranean title last time out with a points win over Lenny Bottai in Italy.

It is due for 10 rounds, this reporter says due because Kelly has made rather short work of the men in the opposite corner to date.

The 2016 Olympian has only completed 13 rounds in his four fights to date.