Former world title challenger Jimmy Kelly Jr. hopes to embark on a WBA title route in 2021, with the Manchester middleweight ambitiously eyeing clashes with the sanctioning body’s ‘Super’ champion Ryota Murata and ‘Interim’ title holder Chris Eubank Jr.

Kelly, who is guided by JMB Management and New York’s Team Havoc, has amassed a 24-2, 9 KOs record as a pro, with his last notable outing being a spirited display against Dennis Hogan (L12) in Brisbane in 2018.

But the Mancunian is keen to challenge the likes of newly upgraded WBA ‘Super’ middleweight champion Murata and the sanctioning body’s ‘Interim’ title holder Eubank, having almost fought former WBA king Rob Brant a couple of years ago.

“The team was pushing for the Rob Brant fight back at the end of 2019. We were offered the fight by my former promoter and I accepted it but then Brant went in a different direction,” said Kelly, who lost his WBO 154lbs title bid to Liam Smith in seven rounds back in December 2015. “I would still take that fight if it was offered to me, I think Brant is a quality fighter. We always saw this fight, however, as a route to Murata. 

“Eubank has one of the WBA belts and I’ve never had a problem selling out venues in Manchester. If [his promoter] wants to come to Manchester with Eubank, I’ll be game to fight him. 

“I have to get myself back into contention first. I realise that I have to put my name on the map this year but I’m fortunate that my team is making sure I have the opportunities to do that. I will stay in Manchester for Eubank or go to Japan for Murata if the offers come. I want to fight the best that’s realistically out there for me and I want to show people I’m still an improving, top level fighter.” 

Inactive during a frustrating 2020, Kelly has high hopes for the coming year with two fights already pencilled in during the first half of 2021 .

“I’ve not really been out of the gym with my trainer Arnie Farnell. Arnie and I just click in a way that I haven’t with other trainers, with all due respect to them. We’re mates as well as fighter and trainer. He’s taught me a lot and I believe he’s making me into a well-rounded fighter,” said the Wythenshawe middleweight.

“Despite everything, I’ve had the daily support of JMB Management and Team Havoc. I have a fantastic support system. I’m so grateful to be able to call on the advice of people who have real global experience such as Andre Rozier, [that] is priceless for somebody at [this] stage of my career.

“I can’t announce the exact locations just yet but I’ll be boxing twice overseas in the first half of 2021, subject to the Covid-19 restrictions affecting the events. I’m ready to launch an assault on the world and do it in the way I’ve always wanted to do it.”