WBO light middleweight champion Liam Smith (21-0-1, 11 KOs) will defend his title against unbeaten British rival Jimmy Kelly (16-0, 7 KOs) on December 19 at the Manchester Arena.
The undefeated Smith, 27, will be making the first defence of the vacant belt he won when knocking out American John Thompson in the seventh round, at the same venue in October.
“I can’t wait to make the opening defence of my world title,” said Smith.
“Kelly is a tough and unbeaten young challenger which is fantastic because it gives me the motivation to give him a real hiding in the ring so I keep hold of my title. I’m entering the prime of my career, so there is much, much more to come, and I’m not going to let an upstart like Kelly anywhere near taking my title. This belt is leaving with me back to its home in Liverpool.”
The 23-year-old Kelly will be taking a major step up in competition and will start as a massive underdog, but he is confident.
“Smith’s reign is going to be very brief,” said Kelly. “He’d better treasure the next five weeks as world champion because it’s coming to an end in December.
“ I’m going out there to smash up Liam Smith and take his world title. I’ll have too much of everything for Smith in every department.”
The bout will be on the same bill as Andy Lee’s WBO middleweight title defence against mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders.