Eyebrows were raised and there was a negative reaction in some quarters due to the fact that 23 year-old Kelly has never been involved in a twelve round fight, despite racking up sixteen straight victories as a pro.
Initially, title holder Smith had been in talks to face boxing legend ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley until that contest collapsed and the American has since joined those who say Kelly is the wrong opponent for the Manchester Arena bout.
Wythenshawe’s Kelly is simply focusing on the task in hand on home soil just before Christmas and says Mosley has had his day, plus was not in any position to challenge Smith as he was unranked by the World Boxing Organisation.
“I have not really paid attention to any negativity as the sport is very is opinionated. Myself, my team and all my fans think I will win and that’s all that matters,” Kelly exclusively told World Boxing News.
“When it comes to Shane Mosley, me and Liam are young fighters coming up in the sport, while he is in his 40’s and so is Ricardo Mayorga who he fought last. In my opinion, fights like that are bad for boxing and as everyone knows he is unranked unlike myself – so it makes better sense for Liam to fight me.”
Asked whether he may look into a fight with Mosley should he overcome Smith next month, Kelly replied: “My focus is on the 19th December. Any boxer who is going into a world title fight and already thinking about their next fight is stupid if you ask me. The focus for me is the here and now.
“A world title fight is never easy and I am expecting a hard night. I am training for a world title fight and I am looking forward to the challenges it may present. My last fight was a ten round fight and there was some gas left in the tank at the end. I am training for 12 rounds, so I know I will have the stamina and pace required to go the full distance.
“I have respect for Liam as he won the world title. He got the win against John Thompson and he did what he wanted to do with him, but It would be a real dream come true not only to win a world title but to do it in my hometown. It would be unreal.
“My fans are so loyal, as is my team, and how often do people get the chance to fight for a world title in their home city,” he added.