Karl Kelly, centre, is looking forward to his derby date with Rathmichael-based Victor Rabei

KARL Kelly is in confident mood as he prepares to take a huge step up for the second fight of his fledgling professional boxing career next month.

The 23-year-old from Monkstown will travel to Belfast to fight undefeated English prospect Lucas Ballingall at an MHD Show at the Europa Hotel on February 3 and very few are giving him a chance of victory.

However, Kelly himself is raring to go and confident he can cause an upset.

“I’m feeling good going into the fight,” Kelly told the Dublin Gazette. “Of course, it is a big, big step up for me for my second fight, but I have said from day one that I didn’t want to fight handy journeymen; I want to go out and get a name for myself and build.

“It is going to be a tough fight but I am hoping to go up and cause an upset.”

Kelly is managed by recently crowned BUI Celtic welterweight champion Jay Byrne, and has plumped for taking a similar career path to his mentor.

“Being with Jay from day to day has had a big influence on my career. He helps me a lot; not just as a manager, he is a mate as well. If I ever need help, Jay is always there. If I ever need to discuss anything about a fight, Jay is there to answer all the questions.

“I want to follow in the footsteps of Jay; being the BUI Welterweight champion, and I am not going to get there by taking easy journeymen fights. Win, lose or draw, this fight is not the end of the world; it just means I am going to be ready for some domestic fights in 2018.”

Ballingall has impressed so far with his quick hands and effortless footwork, and is likely to prove a cut above many realistic Irish opponents for Kelly.

“He is going to be coming over from England very, very confident. He is 8-0 so he has everything to lose. I am still early in my career so I don’t really have anything to lose.

“I haven’t watched too much of him but I know Jay and Deco [Geraghty, his trainer] have been sitting down and studying him well. Deco has watched his eight fights and seen how his style has changed.

“I’m not going to go and look for the knockout but if one of my shots land [then I could achieve it].”

Although looking to forge an international career, Kelly is excited about the future of professional boxing in Ireland.

“It’s amazing looking at the boxing side of things in Ireland over the last year and what the likes of Red Corner and Irish Boxing have done for it.

“Irish Boxing are hosting their Last Man Standing in March and they are hoping to get it televised. That is going to be absolutely amazing for the sport and I am looking forward to the days of Bernard Dunne and the like coming back into Ireland.”

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