CRAIG KELLY is one of Scotland’s tough guys.
The Paisley welterweight has been a professional since 2011 and very rarely do his fans go home disappointed after a fight. On January 26, Kelly will take on Denton Vassell at the St Andrews Sporting Club in a fight that could propel him into domestic title contention.
In 2014 Kelly was also involved in what many thought was the Scottish Fight Of The Year when he went to war with old rival Billy Campbell, winning over 10 rounds at the Paisley Lagoon Centre.
In this interview with Boxing News, Kelly speaks about the fight with Vassell, his revenge in that great second fight with Campbell, and what domestic fighters he would like to take on in the future.
Hi Craig, you will be fighting on the St Andrews Burns Night show against former Commonwealth Champion Denton Vassell. How do you rate your chances in what many see as your toughest test?
I feel I’m ready for a big test and this is certainly a test. It’s also great to be topping the bill and to be fighting a true champion like Denton Vassell. This is also a prizefight so I always fancy my chances every time I go in there.
Fighting on the big showcase Burns Night bill, and topping the show. What does this mean to you and do you feel this is a reward for the way you have progressed in the last year?
I feel last year was a big one for me. I know I slipped up with William Warburton at Ravenscraig but believe me that guy is no mug and he caught me on a very bad night. Well done to him for his win. I won the International Masters Silver title though with a win over a tricky southpaw (Marek Laskowski) at the Lagoon Centre so that put me back on track, So all in all it was a good year as I went 3-1 and won two titles.
If you gain the victory over Vassell you would be right in British Title contention. Who of the other top domestic welterweights would you love to fight?
Listen you get guys in this game that are happy just fighting with also-rans. I’m 32 and I want to fight the best, Denton is one of them so why not? Aim big, win big!. If I am able to get past him then I will fight whoever wants it at that level. After all that’s why I’m in this game.
The Billy Campbell fight back in January was a classic where you gained revenge for a 2012 loss. What are your memories of the fight and would you give Campbell the rubber match?
That fight with Billy was top drawer, both of us stuck it all on the line and it was an absolute war. I loved it and won the Scottish Area Title. In the fight I was able to pick the cleaner shots and control large parts of the rounds. It’s a night and a fight I will never forget and who knows? Never say never – if it suits the both of us then the third fight could happen.
Back to your big fight with Vassell. Who have you been sparring with to prepare you for the fight?
Not giving too much away here but they’re fast hard hitting lightweights gold medalists and pro champs at the Phoenix gym. So plenty of variations.
Your record of 7-6-1 (1) is very deceiving. Who would you say your best win and performance was against?
Time for a cliché; Peter Harrison says records are for DJs. I agree as there’s more than a few debatable results in my record. My best win was the Campbell fight for what it brought. But my toughest fight was against Alastair Chisholm (Kelly won 58-57) who was 3-0 at the time in Inverness. It was a six-round war, punch for punch. Bad boxing but great fight. Loved it.
Mike Towell (Scottish and British Masters 154lb champion) is said to be moving down to welterweight. That fight would be a Scottish fans dream. What’s your thoughts on that fight and what would be the outcome?
You’re right, it’s all ifs and buts. I’m a welterweight, he isn’t, so time will tell. I don’t need Mike Towell yet I keep hearing his name? He’s a good come-forward fighter and I agree it would be a cracker but I’m worrying about Mr Vassell right now and if I get past him then I move into top 10 so that’s who has my focus.