Josh Kelly has pledged to “put on a show” tonight (Sat) against
European welterweight champion David Avanesyan as one of Eddie Hearn’s
most touted prospects takes a serious step up in class to face the
experienced – and dangerous – Russian Armenian as the headliner at the
SSE Arena, Wembley.
Given Kelly’s style, as an elusive counter puncher, it ought to be a
bull versus matador contest with Kelly’s cape being utilised to hit
and not be hit by the heavy-handed, aggressive hooks and power punches
of the 32 year old who has already fought at world level in his
professional 12-year sojourn.
Avanesyan lost a points decision in a bid for the world title against
Lamont Peterson exactly four years ago, the US fighter having defeated
Briton Amir Khan in the American’s home town of Washington a decade
ago on a night of controversial refereeing and judging.
In other words, Avanesyan will provide a clear marker of where Kelly
is to be place after four years in the paid ranks undefeated and ready
to climb the heights alongside fellow 2016 Olympians like light
heavyweight Joshua Buatsi and cruiserweight Larence Okolie, who are
now at world level.
Sunderland’s Kelly – ring sobriquet ‘Pretty Boy’ – is, as his moniker
suggests, a chiselled ambitious fighter who has been on the radar in
British boxing since he represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games
in Brazil in 2016. Kelly lost a unanimous decision in Rio to the
number one-ranked Daniyar Yelleussinov of Kazakhstan in the last 16,
also at welterweight (10st 7lbs)
Kelly is unbeaten in eleven bouts, moves elusively a creates punches
from many angles, and is trained by Adam Booth, the man in the corner
for notably, among others, David Haye and George Groves. A young
father, and now 26, Kelly is both articulate, and marketable.
The only blemish on his career was a draw with experienced American
Ray Robinson in June 2019 at Madison Square Garden on a night when he
veered towards showboating arguably a little too much.
“I’ve got great respect for David,” said Kelly, who has 6 knockouts in
his ten victories. “We’ve just got to do the dance and put on a show.
I think David is a strong capable fighter. I believe that I’m a big
welterweight, and I’m strong. Now it’s time to quiet down, focus in
and get the job done.” The reference was Kelly’s full stop on the
sledging of each other in public and on social media for almost two
Avanesyan, who has been based in the UK for long periods, added: “This
is a must-win fight for me. It’s a big fight. I’m going to give
everything to it.”
Now all the fighting stylist from Sunderland needs for greater
exposure is a victory over Avanesyan, to advance his cause up the
rankings ladder, or towards an all-British showdown with Conor Benn,
son of former two-weight world champion Nigel Benn.
Benn weighed in with his own views this week, opining that Avanesyan
was “too much of an animal” for Kelly, and that his physicality may
prove too much for for British rival. “But I would like Josh to win,”
added Benn. “I’d take the fight with Kelly in a heart beat. It’s a big