Kris George determined to hand Josh Kelly first defeat

Josh Kelly fight time
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Kris George wants to use Josh Kelly as a springboard for his own world title ambitions, writes Jack Figg

COMMONWEALTH welterweight champion Kris George has insisted the “underdog” tag fits him well as he prepares to upset the odds against Josh Kelly.

George defends his strap against the rising star Kelly on June 16 in Newcastle as part of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing bill at the Metro Radio Arena which also sees Tyneside British champion Lewis Ritson defend his title against Paul Hyland.

The 14-1 Australian champion will come into the contest a seismic underdog, as Kelly, a former Olympian, is tipped for stardom among those in the world of boxing and many will see George as another stepping stone along the way.

However, Kelly’s counterpart on the night does not share the same view, and like many others before him in his situation, George has vowed to embrace the underdog tag. But first he acknowledges the challenge in front of him.

“Cometh the hour cometh the man,” George said. “I’m under no illusions this is a significant challenge but again the way I look at it – it’s a significant opportunity.

“I’m well aware of the wraps on Josh Kelly and I say keep talking him up – that suits me fine.

“I love being the underdog, the bigger underdog the better.

“I’m confident I will rise to the occasion, every fight at this level is make or break.”

Josh Kelly

While the fight is George’s second defence of the Commonwealth title he clinched against former Olympian Cameron Hammond in November 2016, Kelly will also put up his WBA International title which he captured against former IBF world champion Carlos Molina in March.

George targets a ranking with the WBA after the fight. “I’m chasing a world title, Josh Kelly is a significant step in that direction” he said. “If I can beat him I pick up his WBA regional title and I progress up the rankings.”

The Queensland native is no stranger to upsetting the odds against undefeated fighters as he knocked out the undefeated Kiwi prospect Bowyn Morgan in 2016 while ending Hammond’s undefeated run on the way to Commonwealth title success the same year.

The run of ending undefeated records has lead George to believe he will be Kelly’s toughest test to date. “Josh Kelly is a great young fighter, he’s doing amazing things in the sport and he has all of Britain behind him – all the pressure is on him,” George said. “People say this is my greatest challenge and the biggest fight of my career and I don’t dispute that but what I would also say is – you can make the same statement about Josh Kelly.

“I truly believe I am the biggest fight of his career as well and the toughest opponent he has faced.”

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