Following news that the BBC have ordered him to defend his British title against Josh Kelly, Darlington’s Troy Williamson tells Boxing News, “I’m willing to put it all on the line.”
Troy Williamson of Darlington was actually relaxing by the pool on vacation when rumours of what could be a historic British title defense later this year started to circulate. Troy Williamson has yet to even begin training for his upcoming fight in September.
A British Boxing Board of Control circular informed him of the information and, with that, Williamson, 18-1 (13), found himself back in business mode. The circular called for purse bids for a super-welterweight match between Williamson and North East foe Josh Kelly on August 10.
“I’m really excited,” he told Boxing News. “I just want to be in big fights defending the British title. Josh Kelly is next in line and that’s a big fight for the North East. It’s got a lot of people talking about it. The news only came out yesterday and everybody’s got something to say already.”
Since going pro in 2017, Sunderland native Kelly has competed in front of a large audience. In his most recent match, in June, Kelly defeated Peter Kramer in four rounds. In contrast to Williamson, Kelly has faced significant expectations from others from the start, and Williamson, a potential rival, thinks the hype is justified given Kelly’s talent.
However, he never imagined Kelly would run for office at super-welterweight, much less be ready to face him.
“He’s only just come on my radar since he stepped up to super-welterweight,” Williamson admitted. “He was only a welterweight before that and it never really crept into my mind that he could one day step up. I didn’t think he was a massive welterweight, either, so I was a bit surprised to hear he had moved up, to be honest. I have a size advantage over most people I fight and it wouldn’t be any different with Josh.
“Still, I think he’s a special talent; very talented. He’s got a great skill set. I think he’s a great fighter and I always have done.”
Josh Kelly poses (Mark Robinson)
While Kelly’s talent has never been in question, there are undoubtedly many more areas in which a fighter must perform at their absolute best in order to ultimately realize their full potential. The majority of people still view Kelly, 11-1-1 (7), as undefeated, and his mission has been made more difficult by a 2021 loss to David Avanesyan, who, according to Williamson, set the template for defeating Kelly.
“I think the way to beat Josh would be to make him fight at my pace and not let him work at his pace,” he said. “That’s what Avanesyan did with him. He set a high pace and never let him settle into any kind of rhythm. You have to stay on him and pressure him.”
For Williamson to have the opportunity to attempt, Kelly must first choose to move in his direction and pursue the Lonsdale belt, which is frequently easier said than done. If that occurs, he does not see any reason why the two cannot meet in December.
“I don’t know whether they’ll go for it or not, but I really do hope he takes it,” said Williamson. “I think he would take it, if I’m honest, but it will probably be down to his team. They might talk him out of it. I hope they don’t, though, because it would be a big fight for this area.
“I know Josh is fighting on July 30, and I’m looking to get out in the middle of September. Potentially, at the end of the year it could happen. We could do a stadium fight if we pack the stadium with the best fighters from the North East. Boxing here is booming at the moment and we’ve got some great talent coming through.
“I’m willing to put it all on the line. If Josh is game and up for it, let’s make the fight happen.”
Williamson had to endure 12 grueling rounds with Mason Cartwright in March to defend his British title; Cartwright defeated Williamson in the second round. On reflection, the 30-year-old known as “Trojan” saw it as a teaching opportunity, and he finally emerged from it with his unblemished record intact.
“I didn’t perform great, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I had to grind it out. I wasn’t 100%. I got put down, I got back up, and I then dug in, gritted my teeth, and won the fight.
“I thought I won by three rounds. On the night, emotions were high and I thought it was dead close. When I watch it back now, I think he started the fight well, a couple of rounds were give and take, but from round six or seven onwards I thought I won every round on my jab alone.
“I think if I had started using my jab earlier, I would have made it a lot easier for myself. But I got put down early and the game plan went out the window after that. Once I composed myself, got back to my boxing, and stuck to the plan, I couldn’t miss him with the jab. From the seventh round onwards, I busted him up with that shot.”
Williamson won the British title in 2021 by stunning Ted Cheeseman in the tenth round, then going the full twelve rounds against Cartwright. With that victory, Williamson not only earned the Lonsdale title but also gained notoriety in the role of underdog or unknown, which he excelled in.
“The win against Cheeseman did elevate me to that next level,” he recalled. “After it a lot more people were talking about me. That was the fight that catapulted me up the rankings. People now knew who Troy Williamson was.
“But then, going into the Mason Cartwright fight, nobody really knew who Mason Cartwright was. People were writing him off and I was expected to just go in there and steamroll him. The bookies had me a huge favorite, which actually reminded me of when I fought Cheeseman. Nobody knew who I was back then. I hadn’t been promoted well. People expected Cheeseman to beat me.
But I shocked a lot of people and I think Mason shocked a lot of people with the performance he put on against me. It was a great performance and a great fight.
“A lot of people might now look at the Cheeseman performance and think that it was a bit of a fluke, or maybe a one-off. They expected me to do the same to Cartwright and that just didn’t happen.
“Now I’ve had two back-to-back “Fight of the Year” contenders and, if Josh Kelly takes the fight, and I take care of Josh Kelly in the same fashion, people will start believing in me. I’ll have three good names on my record then.”