Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly fired up for professional debut

Josh Kelly
Josh Kelly
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Josh Kelly “can’t wait” to unleash his opening salvo of punches as a professional.

Sunderland’s Olympian is ready to discard the amateur vest he wore with such style and distinction this weekend in Glasgow.

Kelly, fighting for the first time since reaching the last 16 in Rio, will face Jay Byrne over six rounds at the SSE Hydro.

“I can’t wait to get in there on Saturday,” said the 23-year-old ahead of the Sky Sports-screened show.

“Everything has been sweet in training, I’m absolutely flying, I’ve been sparring world champions and all sorts.

“Now, I just want to get in and do the business.”

It is an exciting moment for the former Houghton ABC and Great Britain welterweight who was snapped up by top promoter Eddie Hearn.

As an amateur, Kelly was an ABA title winner, European Games bronze medallist, World Championship quarter-finalist and Olympian.

Having been up in the top 10 in the international scene, he wants to go all the way as a professional.

“I want to learn quickly and go places,” said the boxer, from Ryhope, but now based in Surrey, where he is trained by highly-vaunted coach, Adam Booth.

“I’m in a hurry.”

But, like every amateur to ‘turn over’ he has to start at the beginning.

And his first steps will be against ambitious Irish boxer Byrne.

The 30-year-old is no Eastern Bloc punchbag as proven when he took on undefeated Felix Cash last time out.

The Dubliner lost his 100% record when he went the full six rounds with Cash at the York Hall in London, where Matchroom staged their first Nextgen bill, matching prospect against prospect.

But he proved that night he’s no dummy.

“I’m happy I’m not in with a journeyman,” said Kelly.

“They turn up, cover up and survive and go and do it again the next week.

“Byrne will come and have a go and that’s what I want.”

Kelly v Byrne is on the undercard of the Ricky Burns-Julius Indongo world title unification showdown.

The great Scot defends his WBA crown when he looks to de-throne IBF king Indongo.

“It’s a great bill to box on,” added Kelly.