By Drew Carts: After his failed attempt at the EBU title where he was ruthlessly dominated by David Avanesyan, back in February 2021, Josh Kelly has since gotten back to winning ways. In June, Josh Kelly stopped journeyman Peter Kramer. That fight was nothing more than a rudimentary contest that allowed Kelly to show what he and Adam Booth have been working on. This time around, against Bastida, it was clearer.
Fighting under the Wasserman banner, Kelly v Bastida served as the main event in a rather empty venue. Wasserman will need to grow its presence over the next 12-18 month if they really want to compete with Queensbury promotions, Boxxer and Matchroom. However, the scene is ripe thanks to Matchroom creating, somewhat, of a domestic vacuum.
Round 1 – Started how you’d expect against a rugged argentine that had only lost once back in 2018. Kelly with his wide orthodox stance kept his distance while attempting to land power shots against Bastida.
Round 2 – Was more of the same – Kelly managing the distance and exploding into combinations, but not all were landing. Bastida didn’t have a jab to work behind, but instead would trot forward with the odd pot shot.
Round 3 – There wasn’t much by way of action – mainly Kelly throwing power shots while trying to lull Bastida in with his hands down by his side.
Round 4 – Kelly’s class continues overshadowing Bastida’s lack of volume. Kelly doing well to smother Bastida by clinching whenever Bastida came in.
Round 5 – Much of the same from the 4th round.
Round 6 – Bastida started the round with more intent. Going to the body several times with Kelly again tying him up. Kelly responded with some good jabs that pushed Bastida back. Bastida’s best round.
Round 7 – Kelly found his rhythm again making Bastida miss with multiple punches. The quality difference was well and truly evident. However, Kelly’s power doesn’t seem to be making the intended impact.
Round 8 – Kelly working behind single jabs, goading Bastida in to then unleash a flurry of combos . Good-looking stuff but Bastida absorbed it well.
Round 9 – Kelly was on his bike making the most of the ring but again the same as round 8
Round 10 – Bastida’s corner seem to have informed Bastida that he needs a KO to win. Shots thrown in vain, but all in all Kelly took the fight 99–92 for a unanimous decision. Now the WBO international super welterweight champion.
Coincidentally, it looks like promoter Kalle Sauerland could be steering Kelly towards an all-British clash with Troy Williamson, a fellow northeasterner. There were clear signs that Kelly and Booth have been working on improvements to his game. Unfortunately, if I were ranked within the top 15 I would certainly be targeting Kelly to improve my rankings. Kelly will need to work on both his power and stamina if he truly wants to make a run at the WBO world title.
Personally, if Kelly were to get past Williamson, I don’t fancy his chance against any of the top 6 in the WBO. Kelly’s issue is that he doesn’t throw enough punches nor does he work behind his jab enough. I can easily see him getting overwhelmed by the likes of Castano, Murazaliev, Ocampo, and Harrison. Tszyu and Charlo would make easy work of him, and Liam Smith and Tony Harrison simply have too much experience.