Talented Kelly feels brand new and still has world title dreams ahead of Corzo test
Super-welterweight contender Josh Kelly returns to the ring this weekend against undefeated Argentine Gabriel Corzo.
They fight in Newcastle on Saturday and it could have ramifications in the short-medium term at 154lbs. Kelly is rated as high as No. 2 by one governing body and, at 13-1-1, his dream remains to win a world title.
Kelly was a touted member of GB’s 2018 Rio Olympic team, but many were left questioning him after he suffered the first defeat of his career to David Avanesyan in 2021. He’s rebounded with three victories, including impressing against Troy Williamson to win the British title in December. But Kelly’s goal is glory at the highest level.
“It never changes, it never changed,” Kelly said of his ambitions. “I believe my talent matches those that have gone before and those who will go after and win a world title. My talent matches that if not exceeds that, so I believe I can become the first world champion from Sunderland, no doubt. In everyones’ minds they think it’s such a big task but I’ve been alongside world champions since I’ve been a kid. When I turned professional, I was in a gym full of them, so I know what it takes and I know what it’s about. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I’ve seen them training and it’s achievable. A hundred per cent. It’s more than achievable.”
Corzo is 18-0 (3 KOs), but Kelly is thinking clearly having put out of the ring issues behind him. Kelly has revealed that he has been battling hypochondria in recent times, but he took a year out to address it and said he’s now conquered the issue.
The loss to Avanesyan triggered a closer look at himself and Kelly insists he feels better than ever.
“If I’d won that fight, which I believe I could have and should have, I would have moved myself into a more higher-pressure situation again and the stuff that I was dealing with outside the ring would have eventually reared its ugly head, so I had to get it sorted,” Kelly continued. “I had to get to the root of the problem eventually and that forced me to go, to take a year out and sort of reassess myself, do what I do best and find myself again.”
Kelly has been with trainer Adam Booth since turning pro and has had three outings since Avanesyan, defeating Peter Kramer, Lucas Bastida and Williamson.
“Coming back and fighting the Kramer fight, which was just a get back fight, then there was the chance to fight for a little international title and get a top 10 ranking, then I fought against that Bastida who was knocking a lot of people out, that was another little step up and another little bit of pressure, then we went straight into the Troy fight which was a local derby and regarding big fights and pressure in my career, that was as big as it’s got at the moment because of the amount of local bragging rights and I did that easy. I didn’t feel like I was in a fight. I’ve just got a different outlook on life and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m in a good place.”
It means that a week out from the fight, as Kelly talks to The Ring, he could go out with his wife and children, have a haircut and do other things he would have usually shut himself away from.
His mindset has completely changed.
“Nothing really matters until there’s a life at risk and when you think of it like that, boxing becomes small and life becomes big and these things we go through are just little moments on the journey,” Kelly said.
Does he still think expectations on him are so high, that many still believe he came make his boxing dreams come true.
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “To be honest, I’m not bothered. I don’t give two fucks anymore, because I’ve had that experience, when I was younger everyone putting this on your shoulders and that on your shoulders and you’re just enthralled in it. In boxing, one minute you’re flying high and the next minute everyone writes them off for eternity. Even now, after the Troy fight when I did 12 rounds at a good lick and I controlled it and I felt as though I could have done 20 rounds, people still refer back to the Avanesyan fight and it makes me laugh, because I went up in weight against a guy [Williamson] who’s technically bigger and stronger and is hitting harder. Obviously Avanesyan’s a decent level, but I dealt with him, easy. And it showed I was well above British level. It doesn’t really bother me to be honest [what people say]. It’s where I end up at the end of my career and what I’ve got when it’s all said and done. People can hype us up or put us down but I don’t care. I’m just going to do me. I couldn’t give a fuck to be honest.”