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Josh Kelly happy to be underdog against David Avanesyan

Image: Josh Kelly happy to be underdog against David Avanesyan

By Barry Holbrook: After a year of delays, Josh Kelly and EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan will finally be meeting this Saturday night on February 20th on Sky from the Wembley Arena in London, England.

This is the fight that will show whether Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) has the ability to compete in the top 10 at the world-level. Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) is ranked #6 IBF, #7 WBC, #9 WBA and #10 WBO.

If Kelly, 26, can pull off an upset against the favorite Avanesyan, it will prove his doubters wrong. Many of them view Kelly as a Luke Campbell type of fighter, a guy that was an excellent amateur, but he’s been found wanting as a pro.

Fans have a reason to be skeptical about Kelly after the way he performed against fringe contender Ray Robinson to years ago. Kelly failed that test.

Those two fought to a controversial 12 round draw on June 1st, 2019, on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz card at Madison Square Garden in New York. Robinson deserved to win the fight in the view of a lot of people.

Image: Josh Kelly happy to be underdog against David Avanesyan

“When you look at him, you don’t think this is someone that is going to be a great world-class warrior,” said trainer Adam Booth said about Josh Kelly to Matchroom Boxing. “Very clever, quick-thinking, very showy and entertaining, the first thing I thought.”

“Josh has got all the ability, all the sparkle, all the star quality, and now he’s got to prove it on a massive night,” said Adam Smith of Sky Sports.

Trainer Adam Booth is getting ahead of himself by talking about Kelly being a world-class fighter because he hasn’t yet proven that.

The 2016 Olympian Kelly’s only win against a top contender during his four-year professional career came against Robinson. Kelly’s other victories have come against lower-level opposition.

In taking on EBU champion Avanesyan, Kelly will be tested significantly by the Russian fighter. Kelly has got to pass this test for him to show whether he’s got what it takes to be a world-class guy.

If Kelly loses, he’s going to need to reassess his goals and try to figure out if it’s worth it to carry on as a domestic-level fighter.

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“I think I can go right to the top. I’m an underdog; I enjoy being an underdog,” said Josh Kelly in talking about his fight against Avanesyan.

“It’s not just a win against David Avanesyan; it’s a win against this so-called monster. So I’m ready. It’s a massive step up and a massive gain.

“I think everyone knows what kind of fighter David Avanesyan is. The fight has got to happen now.

“It’s been too long in the making, like he said. It’s got to happen, and it’s going to happen. I expect nonstop pressure from David. That’s what I prepared for,” said Kelly.

Image: Josh Kelly happy to be underdog against David Avanesyan

Backing out once again from the Avanesyan fight before Saturday will send alarm bells off, confirming in their minds that Kelly has been avoiding the Russian fighter.

This time, Kelly has got to make it into the ring to have closure on this fight. If Kelly loses, he loses, but at least he can say he carried through with it.

Avanesyan has improved a great deal from his losses to Lamont Peterson and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. He’s won his last three fights beating Kerman Lejarraga [x2] and Jose del Rios.

“This fight is an absolutely thrilling fight,” said Eddie Hearn. “David Avanesyan, the European champion, top 10 ranked in every governing body takes on Josh Kelly.

“Josh Kelly weighed in for the fight, and then fell ill overnight and pulled out of the fight on the morning of the fight.

“I had to look David Avanesyan in the eye to tell him the fight that he had prepared for for so long was off,” said Hearn.

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