About 10 minutes into my conversation with BAMMA Welterweight and Title Challenger Richie Kiely something he said struck me.

‘ I’ve accomplished more as pro in under a year than the combined careers of Terry Brazier and Alex Lohore. My last weigh-in got more views than Lohore’s whole career’

Richie of course was referring to that now infamous leg kick at the weigh-in of his fight with Daniel Olejniczak. In Ireland it helped that BAMMA card spill out briefly into the traditional media. What struck me though was that Kiely is only 11 months a professional. If he takes down Lohore on November 10th that makes for one hell of a year. The other thing that struck me – he was really the only fighter from that card to break out into the mainstream media.

Kiely has two professional fights and two fairly clinical finishes to date. He made a lot of noise before both fights and was not afraid to say that he saw himself as the face of BAMMA  – right from the get go. He backed up the talk on both occasions and has brought light not only to himself but to the whole Welterweight division.

‘ Alex has had 14 fights as a pro and done nothing really – he should be ashamed and is probably jealous while Terry Brazier thinks he’s relevant if he is it’s because I’ve made him relevant. If he want’s a title shot after i beat Lohore he can beg. If he gets down on his knees and begs i’ll let him join the queue’

It literally pains my hand trying to write down the quotes fast enough as they spill out of his mouth. Some are almost Kiely campaign slogans which he uses consistently in media press briefings ‘ I’m the face of BAMMA’ or  ‘I’m gonna add Lohore’s chin to my highlight reel of knockouts’. Along with this though he is refreshingly off the cuff in Interview and his talk is littered with confident honest opinion.

‘ Brazier is boring stylistically, if he was in another profession he’d be a librarian. Before me no-one was interested in him. Alex and Terry should be thanking me before and after i knock them out’

This is why he has brilliant success selling himself and his fights. He can dissect an opponents perceived weaknesses and deliver it in a cutting and headline making manner while also using the opportunity to reinforce his beliefs of who he is and where he is going. And of course to date he has backed up the talk with those two knock-outs.

Kiely draws great strength from the team of guys he is training with day to day. In this camp he’s been with Peter Queally, Charlie Ward and Dylan Tuke to name a few. Add John Kavanagh in as coach and you have a lot to feel confident about.

” My training sessions in the lead up to this fight have been harder than this fight is going to be”

Indeed he revealed when he was starting out and decided to go balls out for MMA, on his first day he was sparring Artem Lobov, Day 2 brought Gunnar Nelson and within a few weeks he had sparred with McGregor. John Kavanagh doesn’t just let anyone roll with these guys. There is an abundance of talent there.

During the course of our chat the conversation opened out a little and Richie admitted he admires what fellow welterweight Aaron Chalmers has achieved in BAMMA to date. Aaron of course being the former Geordie Shore star who has recently turned pro and surprised many (myself included) with two quick stoppages in his first two fights. Although both in the same weight division Kiely doesn’t see them fighting each other as they are on different trajectories.

” I have huge respect for Aaron. He had a huge amount to lose and a lot of hate for him. Very few people would step out of their comfort zone like that”

While I’m not sure about the standard of opponent Chalmers has faced to date – the point is well made about stepping out of his comfort zone. In fact Kiely thinks that Lohore’s 8/9 fight win streak is padded with some questionable quality.

“Lohore’s game plan will be to clinch, spoil and spoon. I’m working with Dave Roche on my Jiu-jitsu so if he wants to go there he’ll be in for a shock”

In the lead up to this fight I’ve interviewed both fighters. Alex definitely seemed relaxed and confident about beating Kiely. And i suppose with a 13 and 1 record that is understandable. Brazier has been quite vocal in how easy a fight this will be for Lohore. That most of the rest of the division seem to share this opinion is also true. However if he is underestimating the Tallaght man it will be his downfall i feel. The thing that struck me the most in that Daniel Olejniczak fight was how patient Kiely was in waiting for his opportunity. When the opportunity arrived he recognised it and took it immediately and the fight was over. In fact i was reaching for the rewind to see exactly how he finished it. It was that quick.

Richie has been bowled over by the support he has received from Tallaght and Dublin. The support of his family has been total and setting an example to his little boy is another huge motivating factor for him.

On a final note –  i’d prefer if Richie had another full three rounder under his belt before taking on Lohore. I see Lohore trying to use his experience to maybe drag this fight to a decision. At the end of the day two pro fights are just that – two fights.

However If he executes and delivers a win in this environment which is a step up in class and also pressure, well the face of BAMMA might just start looking around to see what other billboards his face might look good on.

Last Word to Kiely

” Lohore will be going home chinless. Tell him to shave i like my chins cleanly shaven. But I’m a generous guy after i knock him out and take the world title belt – I’m gonna present him with a new one from River Island – he won’t be going home completely empty-handed”

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