By Barry Holbrook: Josh Kelly should move up to 154 to pick up more strength, and not have to drain down too much weight to make 147-lb limit any longer, says his promoter, Eddie Hearn.
Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KOs) looked gassed out after four rounds last Saturday night in his title bid against EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan (27-3-1, 15 KOs) at the SSE Arena in Wembley.
Avanesyan struggled against Kelly when he was at full strength in rounds one through three, but he took command of the fight when he faded after the third.
Hearn views Kelly’s defeat as partly caused by blood loss from a terrible cut on the back of his head, as well as the big shift in weight after he weighed in at 147.
Kelly looked like he put on at least 15 pounds after weighing in last Friday, and all that coming back into his body left him exhausted after three rounds.
Assuming Kelly agrees to move up to 154, Hearn says he would have the potential to mix it up with these domestic-level fighters initially:
- Sam Eggington
- Anthony Fowler
- Calvin Metcalf
- Ted Cheeseman
- Scott Fitzgerald
Kelly, 26, wants to fight at the world-level, Hearn notes, but facing the domestic-level fighters initially would be a way of adjusting to the higher weight class.
Kelly will be stronger at 154
“When we talk about the weight, the impression that I got was he made the weight better than he ever has with that 147 limit,” Hearn said to iFL TV of Josh Kelly.
“But he is huge at 147. God knows how much weight he puts on [after weighing in]. I want to see him move to 154 because he’ll be more comfortable up there, and more robust as well.
“When you look at the division, especially domestically, I know Josh is looking beyond and he should do. But when he comes back, when you start linking him in with Cheeseman, Eggington, Fowler, Fitzgerald, Metcalf, then there are some great fights.
“So it’s something he should look at moving to 154, but it’s going to take him a while to get over this. He’s going to be really disappointed because he believed this was the start of a big year for him, and now it’s about the comeback.
“I think so [that Kelly could move up to 154]. I hope Josh doesn’t lose heart with it,” said Hearn.
It would be a good idea for Kelly to test it out at 154 because we’ve seen him gas out after three rounds in his last three fights. There’s got to be an explanation for that, and the weight could be the reason.
Josh will want a rematch with Avaneysan
“I think he’ll want to,” Hearn said when asked if Kelly will want a rematch with Avaneysan. “Going into the fight, he said to me that he didn’t feel good, strong, or right going into the fifth round. He was losing a lot of blood, so you’ve got to look at that.
“He was out-hustled and out-balled by a very strong fighter in David Avanesyan. He’ll want to rematch him. It was a stunning fight. In the round before, Avanesyan was coming like a train, and he’s strong and he can punch,” said Hearn.
“We’ve got to give credit to the better man, and that’s David Avanesyan,” said Hearn .
“Josh Kelly is really confident, and he believes he’s a world-class fighter. I believe he is as well. Just because you lost to another world class fighter.
I hope people give credit for stepping up to that type of fight because he could have had two or three easy fights, but ultimately he believed he was good enough to take that leap and so did his team, and he came up short on the night.
“There’s no disgrace in losing to a world-class fighter in Avaneysan,” Hearn added.
It wouldn’t be a good idea for Kelly to jump straight back into a rematch with Avanesyan right now. Kelly needs to be at 154 and improve his conditioning and power.
Unfortunately, Kelly’s tendency for his face to mark up easily is something that won’t change in the future. That’s why it’s important that he minimize the amount of punishment he takes.
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