Jimmy Kelly is ready to pull off a huge upset against Liam Smith
Wythenshawe wizard Jimmy Kilrain Kelly is ready to pull off a huge upset against WBO World Super-Welterweight boss Liam Smith’s maiden defence at Manchester Arena on December 19th.
A former five time national junior champion and regular Young England rep, the bespectacled Mancunian has triumphed in all 16 fights since vaulting to the pros as a teenager and was always destined for the top. The opportunity simply arrived sooner than anyone envisaged after Kelly inked a deal with promoter Frank Warren in September.
‘When I signed, I said to Frank I wanted a world title fight and he delivered,” says the WBC Youth and WBO Inter-Continental champion, a huge Manchester United fan.
‘I kind of knew Liam was likely to feature in my future but expected I’d have to wait in line. Though it’s sooner than I expected, I definitely think I’m ready and I’m happy to jump in. We’ve both already got large followings so there’s no real need to wait to build things up.’
Opinions that Kelly is under qualified to tackle the unbeaten Scouse champion are largely ill informed and ignorant as the trade grapevine ripples with reports that he has held his own, sparring some of the nation’s elite.
‘Let’s have it right, no one is expecting anything from me. People think Smith will blow me out early but I’m young and guarantee I’ll arrive on December 19th bursting with heart and ambition. I know I’ll not fold. I’ll rise to the occasion,’ says fast-jabbing Jimmy who’ll enjoy a three inch fight advantage.
‘Even if I were to lose in good style, it’s a win. My stock will rise and I’ll gain. All the pressure is on Liam. He dismisses me, saying I’m his ‘Christmas wages’ but, at 13-2 against, expect a lot of Wythenshawe kids to be riding new bikes this Christmas. All the locals are on me!’
The nattily attired Kelly who boasts 12 GCSEs and a BTech in Sports Science is dismissive of those who acknowledge his talent but insist he lacks the seasoning to deliver a meritable challenge to the formidable Liverpudlian.
‘I’ve been around boxing and boxing people since I was four years old; watching, listening to stories, learning from the best,’ states the Lee Beard managed prospect whose father had over 100 amateur contests
‘Just because I was off TV doesn’t mean I didn’t learn my craft. I’ve served a quality apprenticeship on smaller shows and as a sparring partner to top guys like Matty Hatton, Frankie Gavin, Tommy Langford, Brian Rose, Prince Arron and Vijender Singh.
‘Also, I’ll have the support of Ensley (‘Bingo’ Bingham, ex British light-middle king) and Maurice (‘Hard’ Core, ex British light-heavy boss) in my corner, should things get tough. I’ve all the experience from their big title fights to tap into. Both have known me since I was a young kid so they know which of my buttons to push.’
The Scouse-Manc shootout serves as the chief support to Andy Lee’s WBO World Middleweight title defence against Billy Joe Saunders.
‘Liam’s a quality kid – the best of the brothers in my opinion – so, win or lose, I know it’ll be a very tough night for me. He’s very patient and cuts the ring off well,’ assesses Kilrain who travelled ten rounds for the first time when outclassing Argentina’s Martin Fidel Rios at the Arena in October.
‘But I believe I’ve the strengths to overcome him. Both myself and my manager Lee Beard – who’s been around Smith’s camp – have identified a few shortcomings from his recent fights which we believe we can exploit. I’ve also derived a lot of confidence from all the hard work I’ve been putting in at the gym.
‘It’ll possibly start out a bit technical and cagey but it’ll catch fire. This is Liverpool-Manchester!’
‘I don’t doubt for one moment that Liam will train really hard and turn up in shape but, whereas I’ll be massively focussed, mentally he could be looking past me and arrive a bit flat. Big mistake if he does!
‘December 19th will be my sister’s 25th birthday and I intend delivering her a WBO Super-Welterweight belt as the perfect pressie!’
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Liam Smith vs Jimmy Kelly on Saturday 19th December at the Manchester Arena
Liverpool and Manchester will clash in the boxing ring with a world title on the line for the first time in a staggering 82 years when WBO World Super-Welterweight Champion Liam Smith defends his title against undefeated challenger Jimmy Kelly on Saturday 19th December at the Manchester Arena.
Smith v Kelly joint headlines an amazing double world-title show alongside the potentially explosive middleweight collision between WBO World Champion Andy Lee and mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders, plus stars Mitchell Smith, Paul Butler, Tommy Langford, Liam Williams, Jack Catterall and Adrian Gonzalez all in championship title action, plus Derry Matthews and Vijender Singh, exclusively live on BoxNation.
When English football’s two most successful teams, Liverpool v Manchester United clash it’s the fiercest on the season’s fixture list and one of the bitterest rivalries in the world, but now Anfield hero Smith and Red Devil fanatic Kelly are set to bring that same fire and passion into the ring.
The last time the two cities collided in the ring was on 11th December 1933 – almost a week to the day of Smith v Kelly – when Manchester legend Jackie Brown defeated Liverpool great Ginger Foran for the then NBA World Flyweight Championship and almost a century on the ring rivalry is revived.
Undefeated Smith won the title last month with a stunning seventh round stoppage when he smashed American challenger John Thompson at the Manchester Arena to be crowned world champion. Big-punching Smith is on a six-fight knockout run and aims to make Kelly his eighth in a row.
“I can’t wait to make the opening defence of my world title against Kelly and if the fire in the ring matches the fire on the pitch when both teams clash it’s going to be one great fight,” Said Smith.
“Kelly is a tough and unbeaten young challenger, he’s got passion and ambition, he’s ranked in the top ten of the WBO and he’ll have his own ideas about taking my prized world title off me in my first defence. That’s fantastic and really gives me the motivation and buzz to give him a real hiding in the ring so I keep hold of my title. I’ve won the world title at a perfect time, I’m entering the prime of my career so there is much much more to come from and I’m not going to let an upstart like Kelly anywhere near taking my title. This belt is leaving with me back to it’s home in Liverpool.”
Kelly is one of Britain’s outstanding young boxers with an unbeaten 16 fight record and seven knockouts. He has already won the WBC World Youth and Silver titles and in his last fight – on the undercard of Smith v Thompson – he defeated Martin Fidel Rios to capture the WBO Intercontinental and earn his number eight world ranking.
Interestingly, his trainer is the former hard-hitting two-time British Super-Welterweight Champion Ensley ‘Bingo’ Bingham, who himself challenged for the same WBO World title against former top pound-for-pounder Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright, but lost on points at the then Nynex Arena in November 1996.
Kelly said, “Smith’s reign is going to be a very very brief one. He’d better treasure and enjoy the next five weeks as world champion because it’s coming to an end on the 19th December in Manchester, just like Man United ended Liverpool’s success,”
“I just know that this my time and I’m ready for my opportunity to become world champion. Boxing is about opportunities, either you take them when they’re presented or you lose them and somebody else will take it. I’m not going to be someone who dwells on a missed opportunity and I’m going out there to smash up Liam Smith and take his world title. What will people say then when I become world champion? I’ll have too much of everything for Smith in every department.”
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