By: Sean Crose
“There is no bullshit.” says Eric Kelly.
The noted trainer is standing before his gym, South Box, a famous boxing hub in the Bronx. He’s lean, this man, leans and animated. It’s clear he’s passionate about the subject at hand, that subject being boxing – and in particular Premiere Boxing Champion’s honcho Al Haymon. Kelly is defensive of the enigmatic Haymon, feeling media shy power player takes an unfair amount of heat from certain fans and journalists. “Al Haymon has been the top promoter in boxing for a long time now,” he argues. “You never hear Al Haymon getting into any feuds.”
Kelly is also quick to compare Haymon to some of the sport’s other top dogs. “Look at what’s going on with Canelo and Golden Boy,” he says. “Look what’s going on with Bob Arum and Terence Crawford. Look what’s going on with Eddie Hearn and some of his guys at DAZN.” As far as Kelly is concerned, Haymon is not only there for his fighters, he helps them to rise to the occasion. “Does he pay his fighters?” He asks of Haymon. “Yes. Does he diss his fighters? No. Do they fight tough fights? Yes.” As for the charge that Haymon fighters don’t challenge themselves, Kelly isn’t buying it. “Look at all the killers Shawn Porter’s fought,” he says. “Look at all the killers Danny Garcia’s fought. Look at all the killers Errol Spence has fought.”
Kelly is nothing if not interesting. After having a highly promising amateur career, he was kept out of professional greatness by an eye injury. Turning to training, the man became the owner of one of the more lauded gyms in New York. He’s also been seen in a PowerAde ad and has worked as a journalist for Vice. That’s not including his work as a UFC cornerman. Boxing, however, is the guy’s passion. He even runs a program to help local kids train for free, as many can’t afford the kind of quality training South Box gym provides. “A lot of these gyms are just too expensive right now,” he’s told me.
He may be charitable, but Kelly isn’t a man who’s
afraid to state his mind, as is evidenced by his defense of Haymon. “How can
you love boxing and not love what Al Haymon is doing on behalf of boxing?” he asks
before heading back into this gym. “Al Haymon don’t get into no bullshit unlike
all these other promoters.”