Kalle Sauerland: Josh Kelly fell into that vacuum after defeat, he has PPV potential

He was touted as the country’s next star when turning professional shortly after the 2016 Olympic Games. Josh Kelly didn’t medal at those games, but was thrust into the spotlight after being snapped up by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom, along with the vast majority of Team GB.

Matchroom waved goodbye to Kelly not long after a lone career defeat to David Avanesyan in 2021. A rough night for the Sunderland man who would see trainer Adam Booth throw in the towel in round 6.

Kalle Sauerland and Wasserman jumped at the chance to bring Kelly to their stable, he now sits at number 2 in the WBO rankings and is on a three-fight winning streak, claiming the British title in the process. 

“He has got that star potential, he always has!.” Sauerland said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “He had almost two million viewers on Channel 5 in his last fight. 2016, when he was on the GB squad, everyone was saying ‘this kid is the best thing since sliced bread’. He was obviously signed with Matchroom at the time and was on Sky and was brought into the place which was the best for British boxing. Joshua Buatsi was also big at the time, with the full-on Sky machine behind it. 

“Look, I’ll hold my hands up, I’m not a saint. Boxing is a tough sport, and when fighters are built that way and they lose when it is in a time when there are lots of other big fights being made and big names still being pushed? Then that vacuum comes very, very sharp on you and you get pulled out. It is a tough place because the broadcasters and promoters are going to think he is not going to do the next pay-per-view, but it doesn’t matter because we have an Anthony Joshua, or similar fighter. Then it is very difficult to break back through. I think now, looking at that comeback chapter I keep referring too, which was cemented by that fantastic performance over Troy Williamson and he is now number 2 in the world. It is that time in British boxing, which lets face it and address the elephant in the room here, there are not many big pay-per-view fights out there. The pay-per-view names? We did Chris Eubank Jr Vs Liam Smith, both on the other side of 30, you start to think, who is coming through?”

Kelly headlines not far from home when he faces Gabriel Alberto Corzo tomorrow night live on DAZN. He couldn’t be in much of a better position, awaiting the disbursement of Jermell Charlo’s 154 pounds world titles. 

“Josh stepped up at the end of last year and now he is number 2 in the world.” Sauerland continued. “He’s come back at exactly the right time. If he did this comeback a couple of years ago it might have been quite difficult to break through, this industry feeds off big nights. When it is a big night and you have a bad performance, wow that is a bad place to be! Everything for a reason, to quote George Groves. Here we are, he is fighting the number 9 in the world on Saturday night in a fight most would think is an unnecessary risk with his rankings. He really put his stamp on the national scene against Troy Williamson, he didn’t have to fight a big domestic name. He could have just sat there waiting.”

With three fights together and three wins, things have gone to plan so far. The next stage will be to get Kelly to the very top.

“It is one of those tricky ones.” Sauerland added. “There are always one of those promoters who are making moves and you have to protect against it. There could be a situation where the number 4 over takes you in the rankings, so we have to take tough fights with the top 10 in the world, or suddenly Charlo’s belts go flying up and down, we are standing there and someone has jumped us. You can jump fighters who are fighting the top ranked fighters, that’s what this fight is. It is a necessary evil.”