Josh Kelly was taken the full ten rounds by Lucas Bastida in Newcastle in a fight that never really lived up to expectations, but which should do Kelly some good going forward.
It was never spectacular, but as Kelly has been largely inactive for the past 18 months, he needed the rounds, especially as he settled into a new weight class at super-welterweight.
At no time was Kelly really rushed, but he looked happy counterpunching in the main. Bastida lacked the wherewithal to close Kelly down, while Kelly seemed content to play it safe.
“I think I showed my discipline tonight,” Kelly said, before saying he wanted to face British champion Troy Williamson. “I’m here for all the big fights, including Troy.”
Kelly spent the first two rounds springing in and out of range, looking for short hooks and uppercuts. He caught Bastida with a good left hook in the first, but Bastida mostly kept things tight as he tried to put pressure on Kelly.
In the third, Kelly looked to draw Bastida in, but in one exchange Bastida landed a good left hook, although Kelly landed too.
The fight then settled into a rhythm, Kelly backing away and looking to counterpunch, while Bastida walked forward. There were few highlights, although Kelly did get cut from a clash of head.
In the ninth round, Kelly landed a dazzling combination off the ropes, while the Argentinian landed a good left to the body.
Kenny Pringle scored it 98-92, Steve Gray 99-91 and Kevin McIntyre had it very close, 96-95. The win earned Kelly the WBO international belt.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.
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