Published: 00:00, 20 March 2017
| Updated: 11:22, 20 March 2017
Josh Kennedy says he is a better fighter after being taken the distance on his way to claiming the English super bantamweight title in London on Saturday night.
The Folkestone ace only landed his first belt as a pro in December, earning the title of British Boxing Board of Control Southern Area champion at featherweight.
However at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on Saturday night he dropped back down 4lb to fight Michael Ramabeletsa for the English super bantamweight title, and improved his record to 9-0.
The South African-born fighter, known as the Trouble Maker, was coming in off three straight wins, with 15 victories – six of them by knockout – and 15 losses in his career to date.
The durable 35-year-old pushed Kennedy the full 10 rounds, even leaving him on the canvas in the eighth, but Kennedy battled through to claim the title on a majority decision.
Kennedy admitted: “I knew he was tough, I expected it. I knew he’d be looking to make the most of his opportunity - that’s why I trained as hard as I did.
“I think it’s made me a better fighter as it’s the first time I’ve really had to dig deep. I’d not been beyond the sixth round before so to go the full 10 means I really feel like a professional now - it’s like a badge of honour.”
He revealed: “He caught me with a couple of good shots and in the eighth round I lost my balance and went down. I lost that round 10-8 but I got back up though and won the last two rounds. My fitness really did it for me because he was blowing at the end.
"In the end I won it by a few rounds. I knew I’d done enough. My jab was winning me rounds and I landed a couple of big right hands.
“I showed maturity, I relaxed. In the past I have got annoyed and gone to try and knock them out but I stuck to boxing and that saw me through.”
Kennedy took a well-earned break this week to rest a bruised eye and a cut eyebrow, sustained in a clash of heads, but he insisted: “I am always thinking about what’s next...
“The Commonwealth belt is vacant at the moment so there might be something there, or there might be a chance of a European or Continental shot, but I’ll be talking to my manager later this week to see what’s next.”
Kennedy was given 193 tickets to sell to cover the costs of the bout but sold 280, even having to call-on an extra coach to ferry people from Folkestone to London.
He said: “It’s not just Folkestone either, my fanbase is growing, we were sending tickets out to London, Ashford, Canterbury and Dover.
“After my fight was over, the venue was empty for the next fight. All the other fighters were coming out to their RnB, I came out to Vanilla Ice, wearing a fur waistcoat and John Lennon glasses. I do it for me, I fight much better with a smile on my face, but I think people like what I do.”
Kennedy added: “I couldn’t have done it without my coach Barry Pluck, who has been up and down the country training with me, and without the support of my sponsors Civil Rail Solutions, Finchpalm, Dynamix, Crosskeys, Your Style Design and the Shepway Sports Trust.”
More by this authorAlex Hoad