'Sink or swim': Eddie Hearn lays down challenge to Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly

Promoter Eddie Hearn has laid down a challenge to Sunderland-born boxer Josh Kelly after a unanimous points victory against Winston Campos in the USA yesterday.
Sunderland-born boxer Josh Kelly in action.Sunderland-born boxer Josh Kelly in action.
Sunderland-born boxer Josh Kelly in action.

The 2016 Rio Olympian is now undefeated in 11 fights as a professional and is aiming for major titles in 2020 with a clash European welterweight champion David Avanesyan – a big step-up in quality – on the horizon.

“Josh Kelly, he got the rounds in. He wasn’t the sharpest tonight, but it was good to get the rounds in,” Hearn said to IFL TV. “David Avanesyan is next. It’s sink or swim.

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“Everybody has signed the contract for that. Let’s see it, and let’s see what he’s made of, and I think you’ll get the best out of him,” said Hearn.

It was the Ryhope-born fighter’s first outing since his draw against Ray Robinson in New York.

The boxing world, however, seems split on Kelly’s ability after he struggled at times against the 27-year-old Nicaraguan.

A flamboyant fighter, Kelly often chooses to box with his hands down, which has brought criticism from fans and pundits alike.

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Speaking after the fight, Kelly was reflective, explaining that he can do better.

“I did what I had to do to get the rounds under my belt to get the win,” said Kelly to IFL TV. “Personally, I think I can perform a lot better.

“I’m always overly critical about myself. I know what I felt like in there. It’s a positive for me. I’ve got a lot of things to work on in the gym, and I’m going to go to work on them.

“I was coming off of a fight against an awkward southpaw [Ray Robinson],” the 25-year-old explained. “It was more about survival. I never could get a proper rhythm, but I did what I had to do.

“I’m going to enjoy Christmas and the New Year, and come back and work on things.

“I get compared to a lot of the world champions. I’ve had 10 fights now.”