Sunderland fighter Josh Kelly excited by pro debut on Sky-televised World title show

Josh Kelly
Josh Kelly
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Josh Kelly is ready to let his fists do the talking in the boxing ring after almost making it as a footballer in his younger sporting years.

Sunderland’s Olympian star will tackle Jay Byrne on his professional debut in Glasgow on Saturday, April 15.

The 23-year-old faces the Irishman at the SSE Hydro on the undercard of Ricky Burns’ World light-welterweight title showdown with Julius Indongo, live on Sky Sports.

Kelly turned pro this year with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom organisation who are looking to take the exciting boxer all the way to the top.

“I did well playing football,” said Kelly, who played at the academies of Hartlepool United and Sunderland before taking the football route at 15.

“But the turning point was when I won the junior ABAs the first time I was in them.

“I got to the final the year after and lost on a dodgy decision and then won them again.

“I won the seniors and got picked up by Team GB and never looked back.”

Kelly turned pro this year having reached the last 16 at the Olympics last summer.

“I was unlucky to run into the eventual gold medal winner in Rio, but I think that I’ll prove that turning pro is the right move for me,” said the welterweight, who is trained in Surrey by Adam Booth.

“I’m learning every day with Adam and I’m buzzing to be making my debut on such a huge night.”

Byrne is not an easy opener for the European Games bronze medallist.

The 30-year-old Dubliner has won four of his five contests, his only defeat coming earlier this month when he jumped two weights at the York Hall to take middleweight prospect Felix Cash the distance.

In the main event in Glasgow, Scotland’s WBA champ Burns faces a unification match against IBF belt holder Indongo, while Kelly’s former Team GB team-mate Lawrence Okolie boxes for the second time in the pros.

Elsewhere on the bill, Scott Cardle defends his British lightweight title outright when he faces Robbie Barrett, Cardle’s gym-mate Callum Johnson defends his Commonwealth light-heavyweight title against Schiller Hyppolite and Charlie Edwards and Iain Butcher clash for the vacant British super-flyweight title.