Kelly eyes Tszyu at 154, and a stadium fight in the UK, after Ramirez KO win

Josh Kelly sensationally wiped out Columbian boxer Placido Ramirez with a stunning third round uppercut at the Beacon of Light in his native Sunderland on Saturday. 

The English super welterweight ended a five-fight period with promoters Wasserman undefeated, having moved on from Matchroom following a lone career defeat to David Avanesyan. He sits at No.1 in the rankings for Tim Tszyu’s WBO super welterweight world title.

“It was pretty simple, I just kept behind my jab and got rid of him.” Kelly said told ProBox TV. “I knew what I was going to do, and I said, ‘I will choose which round I do it in.’ I worked him in with the jab to get read of him, when I got the read of him that was it.”

Kelly has seen a consistency of performing in the North East of England since linking up with Wasserman. He has fought three of his last four fights in Sunderland’s neighbouring rival Newcastle. Last night was the first fight in his hometown during a 17 fight professional career.

“It’s Sunderland,” Kelly explained with a smile on his face, “you’ve seen the documentaries, Sunderland till I die, on Netflix and stuff. I lived that life what you seen on there. I lived the life of a Sunderland boy until I was 16, then I went away with Team GB and turned professional. I’m Sunderland born and bred, I just had to go to London to pursue my career and work with the people I want to work with, but the big nights are coming back here!”

Sunderland’s crown jewel, much like any English city, is the football club. A.F.C Sunderland’s 39,000 seater Stadium of Light is where Kelly and his promoters are one day looking to stage one of their fights. In true British boxing fashion Sunderland’s best fighter will be going hand in hand with its football team.

“We live and die for the football club,” Kelly continued. “To be honest I lost touch a little bit as a kid when I started doing the boxing a lot. I was just doing the Olympic lifestyle, making weight all the time and stuff like that. Now that I’ve turned professional I’ve had a bit more time to spend on it. I’ve grown to absolutely love it again. I’ve supported Sunderland since day dot, I used to play for Sunderland when I was a kid, around 11 and 12. My Dad supports them, my best friend Doddsy is mad, he’s one of the loyalist fans you will ever meet in your life. If it is on the telly and I'll watch them, but I want to physically get to more games. The energy you get from that is unbelievable. I thought it was impossible to go to the Olympics, then I was thinking maybe a little kid from Sunderland will get inspiration from me being number 1 in the world and stuff.”

Kelly looks set for a big 2024 having seen the year out with a fifth consecutive win at 154 pounds. While being sat in pole position for Tszyu’s world title, domestic names such as Conor Benn, Kell Brook and promotional stablemate Chris Eubank Jr have been touted as future opponents by Kelly’s promoters.

“I feel a lot better,” Kelly added, “this is my natural weight. As an amateur I boxed at 69 kilos, which is around 154. Having to cut that weight at 147 was no good. I’m mature now and I’m growing into the weight. If you look at me now compared to the Troy Willamson fight, I look a lot better. Every camp there is an improvement. I’ll fight any one of those names you just mentioned, any of them. Then I’ll beat the next one after that, then the next one after that. 

“I don’t mind, whatever gets the most eyes on the sport. And, what gives me the biggest night. I’m ready for the big nights. I think we can bring a world title fight or a domestic fight to the stadium in the summertime. We will absolutely pack it out, I’m telling you.”