GettyImages-501997794.0 Credit:  Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images / Liam Smith made a successful defense of his WBO title today in Manchester.

Liam Smith made a successful first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title today in Manchester, stopping Jimmy Kelly in the seventh round when Kelly’s corner threw in the towel.

Smith (22-0-1, 12 KO) did the job in front of him, and while the fight was rightly criticized coming in due to Kelly (16-1, 7 KO) being a totally unproven fighter with a paper ranking from the WBO allowing the fight to happen at all, the fight itself was an enjoyable watch, with both guys working hard and throwing punches. Kelly, 23, had never even fought at the higher levels domestically before this fight, but he showed up and looked pretty solid at moments, before he was eventually overwhelmed by the pressure and power of the 27-year-old titleholder.

While BoxNation’s TV scoring had this a shutout at the time of the stoppage, BLH actually gave Kelly two of the first three rounds, and he had plenty of success in a couple of others, too, before he started to look a bit worse for wear in round six. That round, perhaps frustrated by the way things were going, Kelly threw a pretty blatant headbutt into the mix, costing him two points on the cards. BLH had it 58-54 for Smith at the time of stoppage.

The stoppage came in a bit of an unusual manner, as Kelly was being battered against the ropes, just worn out by the pressure from Smith, when he basically collapsed without being hit again. Referee Marcus McDonnell oddly ruled this to not be a knockdown — it was, and should have been called as one — but it didn’t matter. Kelly’s corner knew the score, and they waved it off with the white towel moments later, saving their fighter.

Smith won the title in October, so made a quick turnaround for his first defense, saying that he didn’t even have time to celebrate winning before he had to get ready for the next fight. He recently negotiated for a fight with Shane Mosley (to whatever degree the negotiations were serious), and we’ll have to see what he does next. He’s got the belt, but he’s also known only in the UK.

Promoter Frank Warren floated the name of Miguel Cotto after the bout in the post-fight interviews.

“In an ideal world, I’d like to get him out again in February on the Liverpool show. If he wants to do that, it’s not a problem. If not, we’ll sit down with his management and work out an opponent,” Warren said. “The Cotto fight, if we could make that, I think we’d all be happy. But it’s about (Liam Smith). He’s still got a long way to go. I think he’s only going to get better and better.”

“I’d love to (fight in February),” Smith said. “I’m going to make a decision in the next couple of days. But I don’t want to come flat and let all the hard work go. But I would love to do that fight in Liverpool.”

Date: Saturday, December 19, 2015


Location: Manchester Arena (formerly M.E.N. Arena), Machester, Lancashire, United Kingdom

Promoter:  Queensberry Promotions / Frank Warren

Supervisor:  Luis Perez

Referee:  Marcus McDonnell

Judges:  Phil Edwards (60-52);  Terry O’Connor  (60-52);   Dave Parris (60-52)

Results:   Liam Smith made a successful first defense of his WBO junior middleweight title stopping Jimmy Kelly in the seventh round when Kelly’s corner threw in the towel.



Underdog Jimmy Kilrain Kelly says no-one expects him to win as he takes on Liam Smith at the Manchester Arena

Wythenshawe boxer Jimmy Kilrain Kelly insists all of the pressure is on Liam Smith ahead of their world title showdown next week.

Kelly is aiming to become Manchester’s latest world champion when he faces Smith for his WBO light-middleweight title at the Manchester Arena on December 19. 

The 23-year-old is seen as a big underdog in the fight, with many pundits expecting Smith to easily win the bout.

Kelly is happy to play that role though, and he believes it will be a much closer fight than what people are predicting.

“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 19 bursting with heart and ambition,” Kelly declared.

“I know I won’t fold. I’ll rise to the occasion. When I signed with Frank Warren I said I wanted a world title fight and he delivered, so I definitely think I’m ready and I’m happy to jump in.

“Even if I were to lose in good style, it’s still a win for me as my stock will rise and I’ll gain plenty of experience.

“All the pressure is on Liam. He dismisses me saying I’m his ‘Christmas wages’ but I’ve been around boxing and boxing people since I was four years old.

“I believe I’ve the strengths to overcome him. My manager Lee Beard has been around Smith’s camp and he has 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, and having Ensley Bingham and Maurice Core in my corner will certainly help.”

Kelly has burst into the spotlight in recent months after having spent the majority of his career competing on undercards of small shows, but he doesn’t think that will be a factor in the fight.

“Just because I wasn’t boxing on TV doesn’t mean I didn’t learn my craft,” he added.

“I’ve served a quality apprenticeship on smaller shows and as a sparring partner to top guys like Matthew Hatton, Frankie Gavin, Tommy Langford, Brian Rose, Prince Arron and Vijender Singh.”

Kelly                                                                               Boxer Jimmy Kelly training at the Phil Martin Centre, Moss Side

Bolton-trained Smith will be making the first defence of the title he won by knocking out American John Thompson in October.

While Kelly is expecting to win the fight, he still believes that Smith will be at his 100 per cent best come fight night.

“Liam’s a quality kid and is the best of the brothers in my opinion, so win or lose, I know it’ll be a very tough night for me,” Kelly continued.

“He’s very patient and cuts the ring off well and I don’t doubt for one moment that he will train really hard and turn up in shape.

“I’ll be massively focused though and
mentally he could be looking past me and arrive a bit flat, so it will be a big mistake if he does.

“December 19 will be my sister’s 25th birthday as well and I intend on delivering her a world title as the perfect present.”

Holder: Smith celebrates his victory over Mark Gallagher in OctoberLiam-Smith-1   Photo by Getty – 

The bout will take place at the Manchester Arena just two months after Smith won the WBO light-middleweight title in the same venue in October

Liam Smith will make the first defence of his WBO light-middleweight title against Jimmy Kelly on December 19 at the Manchester Arena.

Smith and the unbeaten Kelly clash on a double world title show, live on BoxNation, alongside WBO middleweight champ Andy Lee’s twice-postponed fight with Billy Joe Saunders.

Kelly, 23, is undefeated in 16 professional fights.

Smith, who won the title against Joe Gallagher in October, said: “I can’t wait to make the opening defence of my world title against Kelly.

“I’m entering the prime of my career and I’m not going to let an upstart like Kelly anywhere near taking my title. This belt is leaving with me back to its home in Liverpool.”

Kelly said: “I just know that this is my time and I’m ready for my opportunity to become world champion.

“Boxing is about opportunities – either you take them when they’re presented or you lose them and somebody else will take it.

“I’m not going to be someone who dwells on a missed opportunity and I’m going out there to smash up Liam Smith and take his world title.

“I’ll have too much of everything for Smith in every department.”

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While Jimmy Kelly is honoured to be getting into the ring with Liam Smith for the Liverpudlian’s first defence of his WBO world light-middleweight, the feeling certainly isn’t mutual.

The unbeaten Manchester man has landed himself a surprise crack at the world title, despite never having contested a British or Commonwealth title fight.

And Smith says it’s time Kelly puts his money where his mouth is even if it means teaching him a lesson.

“The couple of names we first asked for couldn’t get done and the fight is in five weeks time so we needed to hurry up,” said Smith.

Liverpool WBO Super-Welterweight champion Liam Smith is to face Manchester boxer Jimmy Kelly at the Manchester Arena on December 19th 2015 in the X-Mas CrackerJS76417270

“Jimmy Kelly is number eight in the rankings and he has been using my name for long enough, so now it’s time for him to back it up.

“That’s why I have that bit of fire in me because I was fuming with him for even mentioning me in interviews.

“He hasn’t won a British title and yet he’s talking about me. He’s got his wish now and I’m going to show him how wrong he was to call me out.”

Despite what Smith sees as a straightforward defence, there is little chance he’ll be taking Kelly’s challenge lightly. The Wythenshawe boxer has racked up a decent 16-0 record, claiming the WBO inter-continental title last time out against Martin Fidel Rios.

“There is no way in the world I’m going in underestimating him,” said Beefy. “I have always said a true champion defends his title; I have won and defended the British title in one of my best performances, and I’m going to do that again.

“Without sounding bad, I’m going to wipe the floor with Jimmy Kelly and show the difference in levels; why I’m there and why he shouldn’t. He should be fighting for a British or Commonwealth title, not fighting me.”

The 27-year-old feels more than confident of adding another name his list of victims and insists that not even Kelly’s corner believes he can do it.

He said: “His coach came and sat next to mine last time out in Manchester and said ‘we know we’re not ready for Liam, that fight is down the line’. This was at his last fight, but he has it now, in his next fight. I’ll prove they were right.

“For me, this is just wages for Christmas. It means I go on holiday and have a drink on Jimmy Kelly while lying on a beach somewhere.”

He added: “Do you think Jimmy Kelly is going to beat me on the back of Stephen winning his final eliminator, me winning a world title and Callum doing what he has done to Rocky Fielding? We’re absolutely flying; no way Jimmy Kelly is going to beat me December 19, not a chance.

“I’ll put everything into place and stop him late; don’t be surprised if I stop him early though.”

He continued: “I think he forgets that I chose to go to Manchester to fight a Manchester kid, it doesn’t bother me. I have done it before and I’ll do it again. He’s not the biggest ticket seller and I’ll not have the whole of the MEN shouting against me, but even if he did, it can’t help him.”

Moving forward, Smith wants to put the Mosley talk to one side, but does want to look forward to a big fight in 2016.

“I’m hoping to get a big name for April/May or maybe get on that February bill with a decent name. Whatever comes about, I’m happy. If I’m not happy defending a world title then I don’t know what will ever make me happy.”$category%20p$3