Kris George agrees to Josh Kelly test in Commonwealth title defence

UNFAVOURABLE odds continue to follow the Commonwealth title reign of Kris George.

The criminally underestimated Queenslander will defend his Commonwealth welterweight title on June 16, signing to face unbeaten former Olympian and blue-chip prospect Josh Kelly (6-0, 4 KOs), in front of an expected sell-out crowd at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.

Kelly, 24, is one of the hottest properties in world boxing and has been lauded by many experts as the best prospect in the United Kingdom. Kelly recently secured his first title in the paid ranks, beating former IBF light middleweight titleholder Carlos Molina last month to claim the WBA International welterweight bauble in just his sixth professional fight.

Further to this, the Adam Booth-trained prospect has yet to face a fighter with a losing record.

Remarkably, George (14-1, 8 KOs), who makes the second defence of his prestigious belt, has been the underdog in all three of his Commonwealth title fights. The 28-year-old scored a major upset by outpointing previously unbeaten former Olympian Cameron Hammond in 2016 to lift the vacant title.

George then salvaged a stoppage win over Jack Brubaker last October in his first title defence after their fight was stopped due to a cut caused from a George punch.

Fellow Aussie Commonwealth titleholder Michael Zerafa was also approached with a significant offer to defend his belt on a major card abroad. The Melburnian declined, and has instead opted to fight Wade Ryan (14-6, 3 KOs) for a WBA affiliated regional title in June.

Despite his limited amateur background, George has continued to seek the biggest challenges available, with his last four opponents boasting an accumulative record of 52-2-2.

“As a coach, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some excellent fighters,” said Kelly’s trainer Adam Booth at the official press conference. “Josh is a special talent, not just in the ring – but out the ring as well – and he’s going to have that crossover appeal.”

“There’s been some interesting performances so far. There’s some good highlight reels, but people aren’t aware yet of the substance of him as a fighter. And that will come out when he hits someone who has the right challenge for him.”

“There are people talking about him everywhere I go in the world right now,” added event promoter Eddie Hearn.

“He’s just in the infancy of his career. The opportunity has come up for him to challenge for his first major title against Kris George on June 16th. I phoned Adam Booth and he didn’t even look at him. It’s been a great rise, but now we’re really coming to the important stage in terms of moving to the next level.”

Photo: Warren S Photography