Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly ready for big name opponent when he fights in Newcastle

Josh Kelly shows his skills against Carlos Molina.
Josh Kelly shows his skills against Carlos Molina.

New WBA International welterweight champion Josh Kelly has no clue who Eddie Hearn has lined up for him next – but he’s sure it’ll be a big name.

The Sunderland boxer took a big step up in levels on Saturday night, taking on former world champion Carlos Molina in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight unification win over Joseph Parker.

And he claimed the strap with a wide decision in the 10-rounder in just his SIXTH professional bout.

Kelly confirmed he will next be out in Newcastle, at the Metro Radio Arena, on June 16, alongside Tyneside sensation and fellow Matchroom stablemate Lewis Ritson.

However, he’s in the dark about who he’ll face – though he thinks trainer Adam Booth and promoter Eddie Hearn could well pull yet another rabbit out the hat.

“Yes, me and Lewis will be on the card,” said Kelly.

“Lewis has a massive fanbase in the North East and I am starting to get one too.

“Fight number seven, we will see who is next.

“I didn’t expect Carlos Molina to be number six, so who knows what fight seven will bring?

“Adam Booth and Eddie will decide. Those two are so excited about me so when they get together names start cropping up.

“I am training with world champions and beating world champions. I have got the support of a really tight circle in the gym.

“It’s just about keeping moving forward.”

In the fight itself, from round one the difference in class was evident.

Molina is a seasoned campaigner, has been in with some of the very best in the boxing game, but Kelly, a boxer of supreme skill and speed, looked a level above the Chicago-based fighter.

Catching Molina at will, Kelly unloaded a left hook which had the 34-year-old Mexican in trouble but he lasted the round as the Sunderland man dominated from bell to bell right through the middle rounds.

Late on Molina became a bit more adventurous but it mattered little as Kelly took everything he offered and came back with double. Flashy combinations and that left hook causing Molina all kind of issues.

Some showboating late on pleased the watching crowd in Wales as Kelly strolled to victory, scored 98-92 by two of the judges and 99-91 by another.

And the performance led Hearn to heap praise on his young prospect. He said: “To do that to Molina after six fights. This boy has a massive future in the division. He is going all the way.”

Assessing his own performance, Kelly was pleased with the outing.

“I am my own harshest critics at times,” he said.

“In terms of hurting him I don’t think I did. But I do think I stunned him a few times. I felt like I gave him a flash a few times because he stepped back but he has never been stopped. He knows how to look after himself.

“I knew to get him out would have been a tall order. So I just tried to beat him on speed and catch him off guard.

“I got caught with a few. It is a positive that he was so slow because his shots were coming slower than I thought, you expect the counter it doesn’t come then it’s delayed and catches you.

“But overall I was pleased to get the win.”