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Josh Kelly needs to perform against David Avanesyan says Diamante

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By Barry Holbrook: Ring announcer David Diamante wants to see if Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly is for real tonight when he challenges EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan for his title in their fight at the Wembley Arena in London.

Like many boxing fans, Diamante has seen the slick moves of the 2016 Olympian Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs). Still, he wants to see if he can perform at the higher levels and show badly-needed punching power against Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs).

Thus far, Kelly has been largely a fitness fighter in his 11 professional bouts, which led to him taking punishment, even against non-punchers.

Being forced to go the distance against fighters like Ray Robinson, Wiston Campos, and Przemyslaw Runowski has led to Kelly getting marked up.

While Kelly does have excellent defensive skills, he’s not unhittable, and he’s starting to take a great deal of punishment in his fights.

The thing is, Kelly hasn’t even gotten to the level where he’s facing top five competition, the type of fighters that are a threat to knocking him out.

Kelly will need to show power tonight against Avanesyan to have any real shot at winning. In other words, Kelly can’t stick for 12 rounds and absorb Avanesyan’s heavy shots without falling apart.

A lot on the line

“This is a great fight. The main event, I know there’s no title on the line, but it feels like it,” said David Diamante to Pro Boxing Fans about the Avanesyan vs. Kelly clash tonight.

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“There’s so much on the line, especially for PBK, ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly. This is a fight three years in the making. It’s been since December 2018.

“This fight has fallen through a few times, and there are such high tensions, you know? It’s such a compelling match-up because David Avaneysan is a class fighter.

“He’s a former world champion, and he won the interim [WBA welterweight title], and the interim got moved up to the regular.

“He’s the current European champion, so we know who he is. Pretty Boy Kelly, on the other hand, he’s an incredibly decorated amateur, and he’s a Wonderbly talented fighter,” said Diamante.

A win for Kelly tonight will move him forward to fights against potentially top contenders in the welterweight division. If Kelly loses or looks poor, as he did in his recent fights against Ray Robinson and Wiston Campos, he’s going to need to make changes with his team.

A new trainer, and maybe a move to the U.S, might be needed to get with someone like Eddy Reynoso so that he can be with the best.

Does Kelly have the power?

“He does these incredible moves and the defense and the hand speed, and he’s just flashy, but I like to say, ‘He’s got the sizzle but does he have the steak?'” continued Diamante about Josh Kelly.

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“The fight game is really about hurting guys at a certain point. It’s the hurt business. We’re going to have to see at a certain point whether PBK can hurt guys.

“Can he make David Avanesyan respect him because you can dance around, and that’s great, but at a certain point, you’ve got to stand and fight.

“I think we’re going to find that out. If Pretty Boy Kelly is what people said he is, he should pass this test with flying colors, but it’s not a given. It’s a great fight.

“There’s a lot of great fights there for him [Kelly]. We could see him fight Conor Benn. It would be great to see him fight Conor Benn.

“He could fight Lewis Ritson. There’s a lot of great fights there for Josh Kelly, and I can’t wait to see what happens,” Diamante said.

We know from watching Kelly’s 11 fights as a professional, he doesn’t have the power to beat the top guys yet.

With that said, he won’t know whether Kelly has made improvements with his punching power during this latest training camp.

Kelly has put on a lot of size with training, and he’s more muscular now than ever before. If the increased size of Kelly’s upper body translates into more power, perhaps he can compete at the highest levels against Avanesyan and the top contenders at 147.

Kelly needs to keep his hands up in front of his head and stay off the ropes because he’s not skilled enough to get away with fighting like that.

Things will get tougher for Josh

“I think it’s the perfect opponent for it because, in the pro game, the screws tighten,” Diamante added in talking about whether Kelly can handle it against Avanesyan.

“In the pro game, it gets tighter. It doesn’t get easier. The opponents get harder.

“At a certain point, you have to sink or swim. You can only take guys so far in match-making, and after a certain point and time, it’s time for them to graduate.

“If you want to talk about European and world level, you’re going to be fighting monsters. These are mean guys.

“They’ll eat your shots and come back twice as hard. So you need to be a mean MF also, and that’s what we need to see out of Josh.

Again, he’s got all the flash, but he’s going to have to perform under these bright lights. Just what we saw at the weigh-in, Kelly’s going, ‘And the new.’ The tensions are really high, and I will say this.

“The guys that seem kind of shook sometimes aren’t the ones that you know. Avanesyan is calm; he’s a very calm fighter. He’s almost like, ‘Oh, is there a fight this weekend?’

“He’s just doing his thing. His team is a little bit hyped up, but David Avanesyan is very calm.

“But PBK is really wired for this, and his team is wired for this. It’s a great fight; I can’t wait,” said Diamante.

Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is interested in putting together a fight between Kelly and Conor Benn (17-0, 11 KOs) if he wins tonight.

Benn will be at ringside tonight, so we could see him enter the ring if Kelly is victorious. I wouldn’t call Benn, 24, an upgrade over Avanesyan.

If anything, Benn is a slight step down from Avanesyan. Kelly vs. Benn is more of a business-level fight than one that will have huge ramifications for the 147-pound division.

Where it will really get tough for Kelly is if he gets past Avanesyan and Benn and starts taking on the elite contenders like Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Those are the guys that Kelly will need to prove he can beat for him to have any chance of mixing it up against world champions Errol Spence Jr, Yordenis Ugas, and Terence Crawford.

Kelly will need to be able to get past the Avanesyan test tonight with flying colors for him to hope to one day challenge for a world title.

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