British standout Josh Kelly will face the toughest test of his career when he squares off against European Welterweight Champion David Avanesyan on March 28, at the O2 Arena in London.
This fight has been over a year in the making. The pair were set to meet on 8 December 2018 as part of the under-card for Kell Brook vs Michael Zerafa. However, on the day of the fight Olympian Kelly pulled out citing an illness.
The late notice withdrawal didn’t go down well with Team Avanesyan, with manager Neil Marsh labeling both Kelly and his trainer Adam Booth “bottle jobs”.
Kelly’s failure to fight Avaneysan on his return from illness, despite promising to do so added even more fuel to the fire. All the delays to this fight have allowed it to grow from a relatively interesting under-card fight into a genuine grudge match worthy of headlining on Sky Sports.
The animosity between the two fighters and their respective camps was obvious when they met to announce the rescheduled fight at a press conference last week. All was clearly not forgotten during an intense meeting which saw the hard-hitting Russians manager again take aim at Team Kelly.
Marsh said he still worries that the rising star will once again withdraw from the fight. So worried, Avaneysan’s manager made the quite funny but very crude gesture of offering renowned boxing coach Booth a box of condoms to help with his issues surrounding ‘pulling out’.
Although intended as a joke it didn’t go down too well with Booth or Kelly and only added extra spice to this already fiery affair.
The 30-fight Russian veteran Avanesyan heads into the bout in the form of his life. During 2019 he picked up three wins by stoppage, two of which came against the highly touted Spanish fighter Kerman Lejarraga. The former interim WBA titlist also holds a high-profile win over fight legend Shane Mosley.
In contrast ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly will enter the fight with a lot to prove. Once one of the most exciting prospects in boxing, his star has faded over the past year. Kelly fought to a controversial draw with American Ray Robinson before securing a lackluster win against unheralded Nicaraguan Winston Campos last year.
The 25-year-old from Sunderland will be hoping to win and prove his previous hype was justified. After that Kelly can move on to the world stage and begin dreaming about headlining a Matchroom show at the Stadium of Light.
Will the fight actually go ahead this time? who wins? let us know your thoughts in the comments section.