Kelly and Gorman look to shed a ring of rust and gather momentum in Liverpool

Two stalled fighters make their cases for big fights down the line in a television show, writes Matt Bozeat

NATHAN GORMAN and Josh Kelly are the star attractions on Wasserman Boxing’s latest offering on Channel 5 this Friday night (June 17). Both fighters are keen to get their careers back on track on the terrestrial broadcast which, in a nostalgic nod to the past, is now called The Big Fight Live.

Gorman is the nominal headliner though the form of Kelly will also be of huge interest inside Liverpool’s Echo Arena. The Sunderland fighter returns against Hungary’s Peter Kramer in a 10-rounder. The idea is to give Kelly rounds before he tops a show in the North East in either late July or early August.

We expected to see Kelly in action five weeks ago against Xhuljo Vrenozi (18-4), but on the day of the fight, the Italy-based Albanian pulled out.

Kelly weighed in at 157lbs – and promoter Kalle Sauerland said that was just over two pounds above the agreed weight limit. Vrenozi apparently agreed to go through with the fight before having a rethink.

Kelly-Kramer is billed as a super-welterweight fight and Kelly’s future appears to be at 154lbs.

Kramer should give him a work out in his first fight for 16 months. The 32-year-old from Budapest has only been stopped twice in a 12-5-3 (8) career.

He won his first eight in his native Hungary before going around Europe and he’s 4-5-3 in his last 12, a sequence that includes a six-round points loss to Mark Dickinson in March when Kramer showed his stubbornness.

We haven’t seen Kelly since David Avanesyan (26-3-1) caught up with him in the sixth round of a European welterweight title defense last February and the Kramer match is Kelly’s first with Wasserman after leaving Matchroom. Kelly (10-1-1) is a good addition to the stable and his flashy style should appeal.

Clips of him standing with his hands down, making opponents miss, have been popular on social media and my guess is if viewers with only a passing interest in boxing are flicking through the channels and see Kelly fighting, they may decide to stop and watch what he does next.

The 2016 Olympian knows there are those who will watch him hoping he gets chinned and they will surely be disappointed on Friday night. Kelly can win clearly on points.

Gorman returns after 15 months out.

“I was due to fight last summer and then I got covid,” explained the affable 25-year-old from Nantwich, Cheshire, who’s been out of action since a two-round stop of Pavel Sour 15 months ago.

“My contract [with Queensberry] ran out and I had an offer from Wasserman. I liked what they offered and decided to have a new start. I was going to box Scott Alexander a couple of months ago [on April 2 in Newcastle]but then I got ill.

“I had a stomach infection and was in bed for three weeks. I couldn’t move. I woke up one morning with a pain in my stomach and thought it must have happened in training. I went to the gym and when I got back I couldn’t move and was put on antibiotics by the doctor. ”

That is behind Gorman now and on Friday night, he returns to face Czech champion Tomas Salek (17-3) over 10 rounds on a Wasserman show at the M&S Arena in Liverpool that is screened live on Channel Five.

For Gorman, it is the first time they have been on the left-hand side of a top-of-the-bill fight since they stopped David Howe for the vacant Central Area title in Stoke in October 2016. He’s looking forward to it.

Gorman has signed a three-fight deal with Wasserman and it’s believed he’s being steered towards a British-title fight later this year. Joe Joyce is certain to vacate and we could see Gorman face Fabio Wardley for the belt. That could be a terrific bout.

Gorman has fought for the British title before, losing in five rounds to Daniel Dubois in July, 2019. Cut on his left eye in the second, Gorman was down twice.

Following that, Gorman left trainer Ricky Hatton and returned to Nathan Clarke, who trained him during his brief amateur career, and has boxed twice since, schooling Richard Lartey over 10 rounds and stopping Sour in two rounds.

Sour provides a formline to Friday night’s fight.

Gorman dropped him five times in three minutes and 39 seconds, while Salek shared a pair of 10-rounders with him.

Sour actually handed Salek his first pro defeat as a pro, on points in April, 2019, a result that was reversed in March.

Salek made a successful defense of his Czech title by beating Sour by one, two and three rounds on the judges’ scorecards.

We have seen Salek, who is 24 the day before the fight, in Britain before, losing in three to Rotherham’s Kash Ali (18-1) in Sheffield last May.

Ali dropped him twice with uppercuts and cut him over his left eye before it was waved off.

Salek, who boxed into the 2016 World Youth Championships as an amateur before turning pro at 18, has 11 wins inside three rounds and Gorman describes him as a “big, dangerous man. He’s tough, game, comes forward and after winning his last fight his confidence will be high. ”

Gorman also acknowledges that his opponent is “hittable.”

The punch that Ali unraveled him with was the uppercut and that is a shot Gorman has in his arsenal, shown when stopping Sean Turner in three rounds in Manchester in June, 2018.

The Irishman is not dissimilar to Salek in style and it is a style that suits Gorman. If Salek walks towards Gorman on slow feet, they will walk straight into trouble.

Gorman is possibly at his now effective when walking opponents onto combinations. His ring rust has to be a concern given that Salek has all those early wins, but the likeliest outcome is that Gorman will get a confidence-building stoppage by the middle rounds.

The show also features the return of Ellesmere Port’s Mason Cartwright (17-3-1) against Angel Emilov (10-40-1) over eight.

For Cartwright it is his first fight since he was unanimously outpointed by British super-welterweight champion Troy Williamson (17-0-1) in Newcastle in March.

Two of the judges had Williamson winning by five rounds, but a score of 115-114 was a better reflection of Cartwright’s contribution to a fight-of-the-year contender.

Emilov is coming off a six-round draw with Southern Area champion Dean Richardson (12-0), but Cartwright should beat the Bulgarian on points.

THE VERDICT: Gorman and Kelly to make their case for big fights once the rust has been shed.