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David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly – preview for March 28

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By Charles Brun: Josh Kelly is about to take a huge career step up against EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan this month on March 28 at the O2 Arena in London, UK.

If Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) can win this fight, he’ll quiet all the critics that gave him grief about his performance against Ray Robinson last June on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This is a fight that Kelly could get stopped if he doesn’t stay off the ropes because Avanesysan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) destroys his opponents when they’re trapped.

Kelly could be facing Conor Benn soon

If Kelly wins this fight, he could be facing Conor Benn (16-0, 11 KOs) next, but that’s a BIG if. Kelly has a tough obstacle in front of him in the Russian Avanesyan, and there are a lot of boxing fans are predicting that he loses to him Not only are fans saying Avanesyan will beat Kelly, but they think he’s going to knock him out. Kelly needs to show that he can beat Avanesyan before he starts worrying about facing 23-year-old Benn.

The 2016 Olympian Kelly was lucky to escape with a 10 round draw against the incredibly tough punching machine Robinson. Kelly, 26, needs to make better decisions in his tactics against the EBU 147-lb champion Avanesyan because he hits too hard, and he’ll do a lot of damage if Kelly chooses to fight with his back against the ropes like he did against Robinson.

Kelly has gotten away with fighting with his hands down by his sides by using head movement to get out of the way of shots. That didn’t work well against Robinson, who kept throwing shots and landing a lot to the body. Kelly cannot fight that way against Avanesyan, as he’s a body puncher, and he’ll focus his shots downstairs.

The Avanesyan-Kelly fight hasn’t been postponed yet out of concern over coronavirus. If it does get rescheduled, it’s likely this fight and some of the undercards will wind up on the May 23rd Oleksandr Usyk vs. Derck Chisora card.

Kelly won’t be surprised if he stops Avanesyan

“I’m ready to get it on,” said Kelly to Sky Sports on his March 28th fight against Avanesyan. “I’ve got no excuses. I’ve put everything into training. Don’t be surprised,” said Kelly when asked if he thinks he can knock out Avaneysan. “I don’t think I was going to get the credit that I was due if I beat him at that time. This time he’s had the training and back to back wins, stoppages every single one.

“People realize the threat I’m under. So this time when I win, I should get the credit I deserve,” Kelly said. “It’s going to be a tough fight. He’s a world grade fighter. He’s boxed at the top level and won a world title. 100 percent [Kelly likes the pressure]. This is my 12th fight and just think about it. Not too many people have boxed at this level at 12 fights against the danger of David Avanesyan.”

If Kelly beats Avanesyan, it’s going to be a huge win for him, and it’ll show that he’s ready for the best. Just two years ago, Avanesyan wasn’t that great of a fighter. He was stopped in six rounds by Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2018, and he’d lost to Lamont Peterson by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2017.

Avanesyan has improved a lot

In 2016, Avanesyan was forced to struggle hard to defeat 45-year-old ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley by a 12 round unanimous decision. After Avaneysan’s loss to Kavaliauskas, he changed his game by working on his power and becoming a big puncher overnight. The improvements that Avanesyan has made in his game in the power department is incredible.

His power has improved immensely, and he’s become a body puncher. Before losing to Kavaliauskas, Avanesyan was a head-hunter, who lacked variety to his offense. After that loss, Avanesyan became a different fighter by retooling his game.

Kelly expects to receive credit after beating Avanesyan

“The welterweight division is stacked. It’s not like a division that you can get through after 12 fights and be fighting for a world title,” Kelly said. They’ve got top echelon from ranked 15 upwards. 20 upwards are dangerous fighters. Ray Robinson was a grade A level fighter.

“A lot of people don’t give me credit for that fight, but he was top grade as well,” continued Kelly. “Ray Robinson is tall, rangy, and he threw a lot of arm punches. He sort of always lets his hands go at distance.

“I had to work a lot to gain distance and land mine. So he was very awkward and very underrated. Obviously, the way he got a majority draw against [Egidijus] Kavaliauskas, and he put on a great performance against Crawford.

Robinson is a good fighter, but Kelly should have been able to beat him instead of settling for a draw. Guys like Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Errol Spence Jr., Vergil Ortiz Jr., and Terence Crawford would likely take care of Robinson without problems Ortiz Jr. is only 21.

Kelly didn’t fight well in his last fight against Wiston Campos last December on the Danny Jacobs vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. card in Phoenix. Although Kelly by a lopsided 10 round decision by the scores 99-90, 99-90 and 98-91, he was hit a lot. Campos (31-7-6, 19 KOs) is a journeyman, and Kelly should have been able to beat him with ease if his game was where it should be. But that was a really hard fight for Kelly, and you could tell that he wasn’t pleased with his performance afterward.

Avanesyan has Kelly’s total attention

“It just shows the grade he’s at. He’s the last person to beat Crawford in the amateurs,” said Kelly on Robinson. “I had to dig deep there. I’m ready to go to hell and back to get this win [against Avanesyan]. I’m at the European level. Hopefully, I win this and defend against him if it draws a lot of crowds.

“I’m only thinking about this European title fight at the moment. Let’s get this done and dusted, and if the Conor Benn fight is offered, then 100%,” said Kelly when asked if he’d be interested in facing Benn.

If Kelly beats Avanesyan, he shouldn’t even be thinking about a fight against Benn. That would be a step backward for him to take on the young Benn. A victory for Kelly over Avaneysan would show that he’s ready to fight the top guys at 147, and Benn isn’t one of the top fighters.

When Kelly was being interviewed after the fight, he sounded dejected like he knew he didn’t perform well. In 2018, Josh Taylor destroyed Campos in three rounds. It was an easy night’s work for Taylor. Kelly isn’t the puncher that Taylor is, but he still should have been able to dominate Campos.


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