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Josh Kelly: Avanesyan is 10 times harder fight than Conor Benn

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By Charles Brun: Josh Kelly says he’s 100% willing to fight against Conor Benn after he dethrones EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan on January 30th.

Kelly vs. Avanesyan is being talked about taking place on the undercard of the Alexander Povetkin vs. Dillian Whyte II rematch on Sky Box Office. Having that fight on the card will encourage boxing fans sitting on the fence to purchase the Povetkin-Whyte 2 fight on pay-per-view.

Without Kelly vs. Avanesyan, many British fans will likely save their money and wait until after the contest to find out the results. But having Kelly and Avanesyan on the card is a real game-changer, as long Matchroom doesn’t wait too long to announce the fight.

Benn an easier fight for Kelly 

In Kelly’s mind, the contest against the KO artists Avanesyan is 10 times more difficult than a fight against the 24-year-old Benn (16-0, 11 KOs). Avanesyan is fighting at a high level right now and capable of beating arguably far more talented fighters than Kelly.

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Of all the welterweights in the division, Avanesyan is one of the rare ones that has actually improved his game. Most of the welterweights have been static in their development since they turned pro, but not Avanesyan.

The recent progress that he’s made puts him well above British domestic-level fighters like Kelly and Benn.

Few knowledgable boxing fans would disagree with Kelly on that view, given that Benn didn’t show the type of talent in his recent victory over the light-hitting Sebastian Formella that we’ve seen from Avanesysan.

At this point in Benn’s early career, he’s not in the same league as far as boxing skills, power, or experience as Avanesyan. Maybe someday, Benn may develop into a fighter with the ability that rivals Avanesyan, but right now, he comes up well short.

Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) is still waiting for Matchroom Boxing to announce his fight with the hard-hitting Russian fighter Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs), but he expects that to be done soon.

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It’s a little bit ridiculous on Kelly’s part talking about fighting Benn when he’s expected to lose to Avanesyan in January and likely be knocked out in the process.

Unless Kelly will still be interested in fighting Benn in coming off of a loss, it’s pointless to talk about that fight right now.

Kelly: Benn fight can happen after Avanesyan

“I’ll be ready for that date, and I’ll be ready to rock and roll,” said Josh Kelly about him fighting Avanesyan on the Povetkin vs. Whyte undercard in January.

“Benn did what he had to do,” Kelly said about Conor Benn’s win over Formella. “But when I beat David Avanesyan, that will prove where I’m at. They should know that fight can happen anytime.

“After the Avanesyan fight, that fight [against Benn] can happen straight away. I’ve asked for that fight right away. We had no response, but the timing is right. This fight [Benn] has grown into a monstrous fight now.

“Everyone is talking about it. That fight will pay for my silk pajamas. I’m not looking past Avanesyan. That fight is ten times harder than the Benn fight. That fight is a proper fight.

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“I’m doing everything to focus on him. The Benn fight is up in the air, but him [Avanesyan], that’s there and I’m training for that. Bring it on, let’s get this test done, this so-called acid test. Let’s get it [Avanesyan] announced, let’s get people interested in it. I’m ready,” said Kelly.

With Kelly expected to be a tremendous underdog against Avanesyan, it would be better for Benn to have his promoters at Matchroom to schedule a fight in January or February to keep moving his career forward.

It would make sense for Benn to wait on the Avanesyan-Kelly fight on January 30th if Kelly were expected to win, but he’s not. Most boxing fans believe that Avanesyan will pin Kelly to the ropes and take him out with a vicious body shot.

The Kelly vs. Benn fight can happen, but it might not be under the best of circumstances. Even if Kelly does beat Avanesyan, he’s probably going to take a lot of punishment in that contest.

So if Kelly does face Benn, he could be depleted and worn out from the hard fight he expected to have against Avanesyan. Benn will take advantage of Kelly being worn out, and he’ll likely stop him.

Josh Kelly wants to quiet doubters

“That’s a fight that was contracted. So how was I going to have a fight in December and have David Avanesyan early,” Kelly said.

“I don’t want to do a warmup fight. And I want to go straight in and get this dealt with.

“I was in good shape in March, but the government f**** us, so f*** them,” said Josh Kelly. “But I’ll be well ready come January.

“It’s been too long, let’s get this fight done and roll on. This fight is everything for me as a boxer. It gets me ranked in the world rankings at the top five or six in every governing body.

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“It puts all the doubters to sleep, which I’m not really bothered about. At least it shuts some of them up,” said Kelly about the critics that believe he’s been ducking the Avanesyan fight.

“I believe there are some naive people believing that, 100%. They’re naive to think that because boxing is a sport that I’m totally involved in. I wouldn’t come this far to start avoiding this kind of fight.

“If not for the government, we would have been in there in March getting it on. That would have been perfect for me. We’re going in there in January. I’m sacrificing Christmas,” Kelly added.

Shutting up Kelly’s doubters will take a great performance from him against Avanesyan because it won’t do anything if he wins a controversial hometown decision.

Kelly can’t fight Avanesyan the way he did his last three opponents Wiston Campos, Ray Robinson, and Przemyslaw Runowski. Avanesyan will knockout Kelly if he fights him the way he did against those three guys.

Kelly needs to avoid these mistakes against Avanesyan:

  • Fighting with his hands down
  • Backing against the ropes
  • Showboating
  • Forgetting to defend
  • Slugging

Kelly ready to get Avanesyan fight announced

“I’ve been 60 to 65%,” Kelly said of what percentage he’s shown of his ability since turning pro. “I’m constantly improving.

This is a proper test [Avanesyan]. When I’m in a proper test, that’s when you see the real me, and this is a proper test with Avanesyan.

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“It’s my duty to myself to prove that I have got it, and I just need to transfer that in the fight,” Kelly said. “I haven’t been paid in a year, so let’s get this fight done, let’s get that European title and whatever else comes after that,” said Kelly.

Well, it’s important that Kelly, 26, continues to press Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn to get the fight done with Avanesyan because he’s already lost a year of his career still waiting on that fight.

If Kelly can’t get the match done with the 32-year-old Avaneysan for January, he should move on and look towards some of the other contenders in the welterweight division. At this point, it’s already forlorn all the wasted time that Kelly has spent on trying to fight Avanesyan.

There are other good contenders out there that Kelly can fight if this match doesn’t get made. For example, Matchroom would have no problems setting Kelly up for a fight against one of these top ten contenders:

  • Egidijus Kavaliauskas
  • Josesito Lopez
  • Vergil Ortiz Jr
  • Keith Thurman
  • Kudratillo Abdukakhorov
  • Sergey Lipinets



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