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Hearn: Josh Kelly can become a star if he demolishes Avanesyan

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By Jim Maltzman: Eddie Hearn predicts that Josh Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) will leap to stardom if he demolishes EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday night in their headliner at the Wembley Arena in London, England.

The 2016 Olympian Kelly, 26, is the underdog in the match, but his promoter Hearn is picking him to pull off the upset. He views Kelly as the favorite, but the only thing he has questions about is HOW he’ll defeat the Russian fighter Avanesyan.

We’ll need to see a much better performance from Kelly on Saturday to defeat Avanesyan than we’ve seen lately from him. Watching Kelly struggle against Ray Robinson, Wiston Campos, and Przemyslaw Runowski, his chances against Avanesyan aren’t great.

Josh Kelly heading towards stardom?

“I think because he’s blown a little hot and old, and I think the problem is when you talk about matching and match-making, the Ray Robinson fight was an example of a super tough fight,” said Hearn to Secondsout.

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“Actually, he [Kelly] was never going to get the credit from the casual fans or even the semi-hardcore because only the true hardcore know how good Ray Robinson is.

“I’m so intrigued by this fight because if Josh Kelly goes in there and demolishes David Avanesyan, which can happen because he’s that kind of fighter, he can become a star on Saturday night.

“He looks the part, Josh Kelly. Who wouldn’t want to look as handsome as him? If he can fight like he looks, then he’s going to be a star. But these are the type of fights that make stars.

“These are your breakout fights, and like anything, if you’re not good enough, you won’t win. But that’s okay, there’s not shame in that. You can come again or you can find another job. But this is such an intriguing match-up,” said Hearn.

Kelly might become a star in the UK if he beats Avanesyan, but it’s going to take more than this for him to make a name elsewhere.

Josh will need to beat the top five-level fighters like Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, and Terence Crawford to become a worldwide star.

Hearn picking Kelly to beat Avanesyan

“Somebody asked me today during an Intstagram live, ‘Who do you think is the favorite?’ I said I had to be honest,” said Hearn about the Avanesyan vs. Kelly clash.

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“Last year, I felt like Avanesyan was the favorite, but seeing Josh Kelly and seeing how focused he is and the shape he’s in, I do think he’s the favorite going into this fight.

“Let’s put the main event in perspective,” Hearn continued. “It’s the European welterweight champions. It’s a world-class welterweight match-up.

Both of these guys are top 15 welterweights, especially Avanesyan because he’s proved it and he’s there. Josh Kelly is the one that has got to come out.

“I just got the feeling that he’s going to take the bull by the horn, and don’t be surprised if you see Kelly stand with Avanesyan and try and knock him out.

“And I don’t think he’s going to try and run. I saw a piece on Avanesyan. ‘Will Kelly run?’ I don’t think he will. He’ll move. I can’t wait,” said Hearn.

You have to remember that Hearn is basing his prediction of a Kelly win on how he looks physically rather than what he’s done inside the ring in his recent fights.

Josh in great shape

“We know from everyone watching, Ray Robinson beat [Egidijus] Kavaliauskas quite comfortable in that fight, he got robbed in that fight.

Kavaliauskas had a decent fight with Crawford, and he knocked out Avanesyan as well. So that was  a tough fight, and it could have gone either way.

“I felt like his performance after that was quite lackluster in December, it was a nothing fight really. These are the kind of fights where you see what fighters are made of,” said Hearn about the Avanesyan vs. Kelly clash. “You see how good they are.

“I’ve never seen Josh Kelly in this kind of shape, and I’ve never seen his weight how it is today. I’ve never seen Adam Booth so confident, but how exciting it is.

“We build these fighters up, and we have a job to do. When you get the chance to go, ‘Now, let’s see,’ that is so exciting. I haven’t been this excited about a card for this Saturday for quite a long time.

Kelly looks cut up like a bodybuilder, and he’s definitely in the best shape of his career. Whether Kelly’s condition will result in him having greater punching power or the ability to withstand Avanesyan’s body punching is the question.




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