The comeback of Josh Kelly on Friday was dramatically pulled at the last minute.
Kelly was due to box live on Channel 5 as part of Wasserman Boxing’s first fight night with the free to air channel.
The 2016 Olympian, who has not boxed since his loss to David Avanesyan in February 2021 was to fight Xhuljo Vrenozi. However, at the last minute the fight was called off.
“He won’t come out of his hotel room to come to the venue,” a dejected Kelly told fans inside The Indigo at the O2.
“I got told at 8 o’clock tonight, I was warming up in the changing rooms and he’s pulled out. I feel for everyone. The support I’ve got tonight is unbelievable. Everyone’s tickets tonight will be valid for the Liverpool show on June 17 which I’ll be boxing on.”
Kelly’s new promoter Kalle Sauerland explained the events to Channel 5’s Andy Clarke after the broadcast which was headlined by the Linus Udofia-Denzel Bentley vacant British Middleweight Title fight.
“Josh came in 1.2kg overweight yesterday. They knew he was going to come in around that weight. So, we sat down after the weigh-in. There was no approaches for Josh to go and make the weight with 1.2kg not a big ask. We shook hands, it’s on camera. Then this afternoon they said we’re not boxing. So, we thought okay is it a money thing? So, we tested the water there. In fact, we tested it very heavily. Clearly wasn’t a money thing. In my view he’s just bottled it to put it bluntly.”
Sauerland said he spent time on the phone appealing to Vrenozi and his team to come to some sort of resolution.
“I said come down to the venue and we’ll put you both on the scales and we’ll see because I believe the guy’s last fight was at middleweight. [They were] not interested [and] at that point I knew we were fighting a losing battle. Thought about swapping fights, spoke with the [British Boxing] Board but we only had a foreign guy that could come in, but it was too late for the Board. We tried everything.”