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Crawford says he’ll “SMASH” Josh Kelly and Daniyar Yeleussinov

Terence Crawford Daniyar Yeleussinov Eddie Hearn Josh Kelly

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn has high hopes for welterweight prospects Josh Kelly (5-0, 4 KOs) and Daniyar Yeleussinov, and he’s counting on them turning into stars in the future for him. Hearn thinks those two fighters will turn into the next mega-talents for his Matchroom Boxing stable. However, former 140 lb. unified champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) doesn’t view either of them as being in the same league with him.

When asked by Hearn his opinion of the 24-year-old Kelly and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Daniyar Yeleussinov, Crawford said he’ll beat them both.

Here’s what Hearn posted on his social media site about Josh Kelly and Daniyar Yeleussinov:

Hearn: “I’ve got four words – Josh Kelly and Daniyar Yeleussinov.”

Crawford: ”I’ll smash them.”

So there it is. Crawford says he’ll smash Kelly and Daniyar Yeleussinov. You have to believe Crawford would royally beat both of them. It might be upsetting to Hearn, but that’s the reality.

Hearn needs to realize that 2016 Olympian Kelly and Yeleussinov aren’t big punchers, and they’re fighting in a division where they’ll soon be exposed if he dares putting them in with the talented fighters like Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter. The only thing the 24-year-old Kelly has going for him is his age.

Kelly is young enough to wait out Spence, Thurman, Porter and Danny Garcia until they move up in weight or retire from the sport. In 6 years from now when Kelly is 30-years-old and still in his prime, the current top dogs in the 147 lb. division will be in their mid-30s and likely not the same guys they are now. But then again, there will likely be newer fighters that emerge on the scene in the welterweight division to take their places long before Kelly is able to snatch a world title.

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I hate to say it but, I don’t see Kelly as someone that will ever win a world title at 147, and he’s likely going to wind up at 154. As big as Kelly is, it’s almost a given that he’ll be at 154 in the next 3 to 5 years. I don’t see Kelly being able to stay at 147 for long.

Yeleussinov EASILY beat Josh Kelly in the 2016 Olympics. Yeleussinov totally outclassed Kelly. It goes without saying that the more talented fighter of the two is Yeleussinov by far. Kelly is just a finesse guy that will get found out as soon as Hearn puts him in with a good fighter one of these days. I’m not holding my breath waiting for Hearn to throw Kelly into the deep end.

When Hearn does eventually put Kelly in with a good fighter, 4 years from now, he’ll be 28 and he’ll have wasted massive amounts of time fighting 2nd tier opposition instead of facing good opponents. If Kelly was with a promotional company like Top Rank, they would fast track him right away by matching him against the best. We’d know right away whether Kelly had the talent to win a world title, because they’d throw him in with Crawford in a title fight and it would be a learning experience for him.

Hearn won’t let Kelly get anywhere near a talent like Crawford, Spence or Thurman. I think those guys will be old and gray by the time Hearn decides to finally match Kelly tough against a world champion. Those fighters will likely be long retired from the sport by the time Hearn steps Kelly up.

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As for Yeleussinov from Kazakhstan, he’s 28-years-old and getting a very, very late start on his pro career. The way Hearn likes to baby his fighters and bring them along at a glacial pace by matching them against fodder opposition, I can easily see him wasting Yeleussinov’s prime years by matching him too weakly for too long of a time before he steps him up against good opposition.

At 28, Yeleussinov needs to be fast tracked immediately by Hearn in the same way Top Rank fast tracked Vasyl Lomachenko by sticking him in with the best right away in his second pro fight against Orlando Salido. Unfortunately, I doubt that Hearn will do that. He likes to baby his fighters by matching them against weak opposition in sure thing fights. Look at Kell Brook as an example of that. He matches him against Sergey Rabchenko instead of a top level talent at 154, and then after he wins easily by a 2nd round knockout, he says he’ll give him a small bump up in quality instead of a major bump up. Brook is 31, and he doesn’t need to be babied.

Hearn needs to use Brook and Amir Khan as guys for Yeleussinov and Kelly to test their teeth on. In other words, Hearn should let Brook and Khan be the step-up guys to increase the popularity of Kelly and Yeleussinov straightaway in 2019. Obviously, Hearn wants to spoon feed Brook and Khan weak opposition in 2018 until he matches them up against each other in November or December. But after Brook and Khan fight each other this year, there’s no reason why both of them can’t tangle with Kelly and Yeleussinov. I see it as a great thing for these guys. If Kelly and Yeleussinov lose to Khan and Brook, then at least they will have learned from the fights and gained a lot of attention from the boxing public. They’re both Olympians, so they don’t need to be brought along at a glacial pace the way that you would with a prospect with limited talent. Kelly and Yeleussinov can hit the ground running based off their Olympic experience.

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When you’ve fought in the Olympics, you don’t need to be brought along slowly by your promoters. Hearn shouldn’t waste Kelly and Yeleussinov’s careers by feeding them domestic level fodder for the next 10 years before he finally steps them up. Look at Brook. He was a 10-year pro before he finally started being matched against good opposition. When I look back at Brook’s earlier fights, I don’t know why he wasn’t pushed up quickly. He was faster back then, and a better fighter than he is now. Brook was fully ready to fight for a world title right off the bat in his first year as a pro. Instead, his management waited until he was 10 years along before they finally put him in a title fight. It was such a sad waste of talent.

Crawford will be challenging WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) next month on April 14 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Crawford is the favorite to win the fight, which will be televised on ESPN.

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