“I’m 13-2 against, so expect a lot of Wythenshawe kids to be riding new bikes this Christmas!”
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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