Fighting talk: Josh Kelly not just keen to make his mark in US - he's out to steal the show at Madison Square Garden

The long wait is over.

Thursday, 30th May 2019, 10:45 am
Updated Thursday, 30th May 2019, 10:45 am
May 29, 2019; New York, NY; Josh Kelly poses after the Joshua vs Ruiz undercard press conference ahead of Saturdays Matchroom Boxing card at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing UK

The eyes of the boxing world will be trained on New York, Madison Square Garden, this weekend - and a lad from Ryhope is hoping to steal the thunder of former Team GB programme compatriot and world heavyweight king Anthony Joshua.

Both Joshs, you could say three with Joshua Buatsi also slated, make their long-awaited US debuts in the early hours of Sunday morning, live on Sky Sports and beamed around the globe on streaming platform DAZN.

And while all the talk has been about who Joshua is fighting, or has been unable to secure a fight with, Kelly's bout with Philadelphia southpaw Ray Robinson has flown under the radar.

For Kelly, this represents a step up in class and comes as a little bit of a surprise in some ways, given that he suffered a hand injury in the last of his nine wins, a little more than a month ago.

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Kelly has stormed his way through the levels since turning pro and hasn't always got the recognition that he deserves from the wider boxing public. His slick, fast, entertaining style, with a low guard and shots from all angles doesn't seem to please the masses - a bit of showboating and ring confidence is to be admired not criticised in my view. But I've got a feeling - as promoter Eddie Hearn has mentioned - Kelly will blow the American public away.

Speaking this week, Kelly said: "This is huge, it's just the next step in the progression of a fighter.

"I'm going to soak it all up, the bigger the occasion and the better the opponent, the better I will perform. On Saturday, I will be wide awake and alert. If I'm switched on, it could be a really good night.

"It's a massive step-up, [Robinson] is a great fighter, a southpaw who is long and awkward. This is part and parcel of the game, I have to figure them out, break these guys down and get the win.

"We always do it in style. The welterweight division is tough, with top competitors at the highest level. In 12-18 months' time, these steps will make the difference when I'm mixing it."

Who'd bet against him delivering on his words? I certainly won't be.

Styles make fights, but Kelly has got a style for the ages. There's greatness in them gloves, and people will soon realise it.

*The main event has me as intrigued as any.

Looking at Joshua this week he looks very big and muscular. He hasn't looked this built up since his laboured win over Carlos Takam.

Weight, in the past, has slowed Joshua down and I just hope he doesn't suffer the same fate this weekend against Andy Ruiz Jnr.

He was obviously building up to take on the considerable frame of drugs cheat Jarrell Miller, but he takes on a more live, and at least fair, opponent in Mexican Ruiz.

We know how good he is on this side of the pond - it's now his time to make a statement to America and the world.