By Scott Gilfoid: Unbeaten welterweight prospect Josh Kelly (7-0, 5 KOs) out-boxed Commonwealth 147 lb. champion Kris George (14-2, 8 KOs) in stopping him after the 7th round on Saturday night in a surprisingly competitive fight at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, UK. George’s corner halted the fight. It was one-sided for the most part, but still far too competitive for all the hype that surrounds Kelly. He should have trounced George, but he couldn’t do that. The power just wasn’t there for the 2016 Olympian.
In rounds one through four, Kelly tagged George with jabs repeatedly. George looked hurt in the 1st round after getting hit with a big left to the head. Kelly was doing all he could to keep from getting hit, but he couldn’t prevent George from landing clearly on a frequent basis. Those shots George landed would have been knockout blows if Errol Spence Jr. was the one landing them. George wasn’t bothered by Kelly’s shots, and the reason for that was the lack of power from him. Kelly didn’t possess the needed pop in his punches to get the job done.
George looked to be the stronger guy, and he was able to take Kelly’s shots without too many problems. However, George suffered a hand injury in the 6th and things went downhill from there. Forced to use only one hand, the 28-year-old George was at the mercy of Kelly’s shots.
Unfortunately, this was an utterly forgettable fight, as Kelly had too much punching power and skills for George. Kelly was hitting George whenever he wanted to. The problem for Kelly was his lack of punching power. It wasn’t enough to bother George. If not for George suffering a hand injury, he would have made it the full distance.
Kelly looked fast, but not necessarily blazing fast in terms of his hand speed.
Kelly is going to need to take his time before he steps up a level against the better fighters in the welterweight division because he lacks the punching power to compete against the best. Had Kelly been inside the ring with Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Errol Spence, he would have been smashed by them. Kelly might be able to beat Danny Garcia, who is starting to look a little weathered and vulnerable since his loss to Thurman last year. However, it’s doubtful that Kelly’s promoter Eddie Hearn is going to let him fight anyone good right now because he still has a long ways to go before he’s ready to take on the best fighters in the welterweight division.
In other boxing results on the card, World Boxing Council International super bantamweight champion Gavin McDonnell (20-1-2, 5 KOs) defeated 38-year-old former IBF bantamweight champion Stuart Hall (21-7-2, 7 KOs) by a 12 round unanimous decision. The judges’ scores were 115-113, 117-111 and 117-111. Boxing News 24 scored it for the lanky 5’10” McDonnell by a 117-111 score. It was clear that McDonnell, 32, had too much fire power for the aging Hall to deal with.
McDonnell came into the fight off the backs of a 12 round unanimous decision win over Gamal Yafai last March. McDonnell looked good in beating up Hall to the punch all night long. The win for McDonnell was his fourth consecutive victory since losing a 12 round majority decision last year to Rey Vargas in February 2017.
“I done well. It was tough and there was something slightly missing. It was a good performance against a former world champion,” McDonnell said via skysports.com. “It was a good fight and I move on now. That’s the dream, a world title is what I want, I know I can raise my game to a lot more than that.”
Unbeaten British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson (16-0, 10 KOs) defeated Paul Hyland Jr. (18-1, 7 KOs) by a 1st round knockout in knocking him down three times before the fight was halted by referee Steve Gray. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:53 of round one. Ritson, 24, had too much power and skills for Hyland Jr., who looked like he didn’t belong inside the same ring with him.
Ritson wasted no time in going after Hyland Jr. at the opening bell, forcing him to stand and trade and blasting away at him with powerful shots. In the opening seconds of the fight, Ritson nailed Hyland with a right hand that shook him to his boots. The fight was basically over with at that point, because Hyland was hurt and he wasn’t going to be able to recover with the way that Ritson was attacking him in an all-out fashion. Moments later, Ritson dropped the hurt Hyland Jr. with a big right hand to the head. Hyland Jr. got back up and tried to slug with Ritson, which was the dumbest thing that he could have done. Hyland lacked the punching power to be standing in there and trading with Ritson with the way he was throwing heavy shots. Almost immediately, Ritson knocked Hyland down with another huge shot to the head. Hyland once again tried to land some shots after he got back to his feet, but Ritson connected with a hard shot that put him down for the third and final time. The referee finally called a halt to the massacre at this point.
“He has won the British title outright and, with a city behind him like this, he has all the potential to go all the way,” Ritson’s promoter Eddie Hearn said via skysports.com. “A star is born tonight in Lewis Ritson. I’d love to see him go all the way and lift a world title.”
It’s unclear what Hearn was speaking about when he mentioned that Ritson will “go all the way.” He’s obviously not going to beat lightweight champions Vasyl Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia or Robert Easter Jr. There’s a difference in talent between those guys and Ritson, I hate to say. In a perfect world, Ritson will go on and win all the world titles at lightweight, but unfortunately we’re living in the real world. There aren’t any easy marks right now at lightweight for Ritson to beat in order to become a world champion.
Fighting for the first time since his loss to Anthony Crolla last year in October, former three division world champion Ricky ‘Rickster’ Burns (42-7-1, 15 KOs) defeated journeyman Ivan Njegac (10-6, 3 KOs) by a 4th round stoppage. Njegac chose not to answer the bell for the 5th round.
Burns said after the fight that he still believes he’s got the talent to fight some big match-ups. Given that Burns has lost two out of his last three fights, it’s unclear what big fight he could be involved in. He already lost to Anthony Crolla. It’s highly unlikely that Lomachenko will throw Burns a bone by giving him a world title shot. Burns says he would like to fight a rematch with Crolla. However, that fight is old news now, and there aren’t too many boxing fans that want to see those two face each other a second time.
Burns did look good beating up Njegac tonight, but that was because he was facing a weak opponent with little talent. Had this been a good opponent from the upper levels of the lightweight division, it likely would have ended badly for Burns. Burns needs to beat a quality contender for him to earn a title shot.