Name: Damaen Kelly
Hometown: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record
Manager: Tommy Gilmour
Trainer: Mickey Hawkins
Damaen Kelly was born a brought up in Belfast where he still lives with his wife, Margaret, and four children.
As an amateur at club level, Kelly fought out of the Holy Trinity Boxing club in the Turf Lodge area of West Belfast. At national level Kelly wore the green vest of Ireland and won the national title five times. During his career fighting for the national team he won a bronze medal at the Flyweight division during the World Amateur Boxing Championships in 1993 in Tampere, Finland.
In 1996, Kelly followed that bronze medal with another bronze medal at the European Amateur Boxing Championships in Vejle, Denmark. The bronze medal Kelly won at the European Championship in Vejle gave him automatic qualification for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, U.S., where he reached the quarter finals.
Member of the 1996 Irish Olympic Team as a Flyweight. His results were:
- Defeated Julian Strogov (Bulgaria) 12-11
- Defeated Hussein Hussein (Australia) 27-20
- Lost to Bulat Djumadilov (Kazakhstan) 6-13
World amateur championships results
1993 (as a flyweight)
- Defeated Paul Ingle (England) 13-12
- Defeated Russell Roberts (United States) 18-6
- Defeated Igor Matveychuk (Ukraine) 6-6
- Lost to Waldemar Font (Cuba) KO by 1
1995 (as a flyweight)
Kelly, under the mentorship of Mickey Hawkins, then turned professional in September 1997, gaining a victory in his debut fight at the Ulster Hall, Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, with a first round knockout of Welshman Chris Thomas on a card that included Steve Robinson, Julius Francis and fellow Northern Irishman Neil Sinclair.
Initial title fights
Kelly fought and won his first seven fights, five by knockout, before he had a chance to fight for his first title belt December 1998 when he challenged Zimbabwian Alfonso Zvenyika Lambarda for his Commonwealth Flyweight Title in Chester, England. Kelly won this fight on points over twelve rounds.
Kelly's next fight, in May 1999, was against Scottish boxer Keith Knox, who had been knocked out by Lambarda earlier in 1998, for the Commonwealth and British Flyweight Titles. Kelly was leading on points when the fight was stopped in the sixth round due to cuts, Kelly had a number of cuts to his hairline and a bad cut above his right eye when the referee stopped the fight sending Kelly to suffer his first defeat as a professional.
Kelly returned to the ring five months later and won the WBC International Super Flyweight Title against Russian Igor Gerassimov. Kelly quickly added the European (EBU) Flyweight Title in February 2000 and the IBO Flyweight Title in September 2000. Kelly's winning streak continued with a further addition to his record when he added the WBF Flyweight Title in May 2002.
IBF world title fight in Colombia
After a win over Filipino Jovy Oracion in October 2002, Kelly was then out of the ring for almost a full year and only returned in September 2003 to an unexpected fight against Colombian champion Irene Pacheco at the Sal?n Jumbo del Country Club, Barranquilla, Atlantico, Colombia for the IBF Flyweight Title.
Kelly was the major underdog going into the fight as Pacheco was highly rated and as, with the exception of a fight against Mike Thomas in the United States in 1998, Kelly had never fought as a professional outside of Ireland and Britain.
Pacheco proved too strong for Kelly and Kelly's lack of power was highlighted when he was unable to answer the barrage of head and body punches from Pachero. Kelly was knocked to the floor three times in round six before the fight was stopped in round seven.
Cancelled Darchinyan fight
Kelly again returned to boxing, now under the guidance of Tommy Gilmour to rebuild his career and after two more wins in his native Belfast he defeated Nottingham's Jason Booth to again win the IBO Title but this time at the higher weight of Super Flyweight. This win lined Kelly up with a fight against Australian based Armenian Vic Darchinyan again for the IBF title in November 2005 but this fight fell through after a dispute as to whether the fight should take place in Sydney, Australia or somewhere in Ireland or Great Britain and a dispute over the purse. Kelly's future then looked uncertain although he did face and defeat Ian Napa in Liverpool on the day he was supposed to face Darchinyan.
In April 2006, Kelly challenged Italian Simone Maludrottu at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre in Belfast. Kelly was attempting to become the first Irishman to capture the European (EBU) Bantamweight Title and the first Irish fighter to win the European title at two different weights.
Maludrottu was the naturally bigger man and carried more power having fought at Bantamweight for the majority of his career however Kelly possessed the faster hands and higher technical ability. Kelly's footwork and precise darting jabs frustrated Maludrottu as Kelly stayed out of his range leaving him unable to make his superior power pay. Despite this Maludrottu won an extremely controversial decision by a unanimous points decision. Punch stats showed the that Kelly landed 155 punches while the Maludrottu landed only 87 and the vast majority of onlookers believed that Kelly had won a fairly comfortable decision, but the Sardinian was given the verdict by all three judges. Kelly's promoter Tommy Gilmour stated that "that was shameful. It was the biggest robbery I've seen in 35 years of boxing".
In the following rematch in Maludrottu's hometown of Olbia, Sardinia, Italy on 25 November 2006, Maludrottu stopped Kelly inside three rounds after Kelly's trainer Mickey Hawkins threw in the towel. Kelly announced his retirement immediately after the fight stating "the time has come for me to walk away. The defeat on Saturday night just confirmed that to me. Every sportsman comes to a point when they know they are at that stage when it is time to go. I've had a great career with highs and lows and I've achieved an awful lot". This was to be Kelly's last fight although he was still the number one ranked Irish bantamweight boxer at the time.