2016 Olympian and undefeated professional, Britain’s Josh Kelly is set to finally challenge reigning European Champion, former world champion and top 15 Welterweight; Russia’s David Avanesyan on February 20. Kelly vs Avanesyan will be shown live on Sky Sports and DAZN at the SSE Arena, Wembley, it will be the second fight of Matchroom Boxing’s 5-fight series.
This fight has been rescheduled for the third time as it was originally meant to be December 8, 2018, in Sheffield, then March 28 at the 02 then Matchroom’s opening show in 2021 on January 30 but has now moved dates again to February 20.
Team Avanesyan accused Kelly of ‘running scared‘ after pulling out of their original contest with an illness on the day of the fight. Avanesyan will be Kelly’s toughest test to date and coming through it will undoubtedly prove himself at the top level.
On Chief Support, the heavily popular Albanian Florian Marku steps up massively against the fellow undefeated Rylan Charlton who upset the 9-0 Newcastle prospect Joe Laws in his last fight. The winner of Marku-Charlton will be eyeing the main event winner for a fight down the line.
Also on the undercard, Anthony Fowler battles Jorge Fortea over 10 rounds. Additionally, we see the Commonwealth Title rematch between Amy Timlin (4-0) and Carly Skelly (3-0) and New S-Jam boxing and Matchroom signing Johnny Fisher makes his pro debut.
Kelly vs Avanesyan: Sink or Swim for Josh Kelly
Olympian Josh Kelly turned pro with Matchroom Boxing in 2017 as a huge prospect who was swiftly advanced through. He fought 5 times in 2017 before stepping up in early 2018 for the WBA (International) belt against former world champion Carlos Molina who took him the distance in a good, competitive learning fight.
Kelly then stopped Kris George in Newcastle to win the Commonwealth strap and immediately eyed a fight with Top 15 Contender David Avanesyan. The fight was scheduled for December 8, 2018, and March 28 2020, but both cancelled. In the interim, Kelly made his US debut against Ray Robinson and got a very fortunate draw as many had Kelly down on the scorecards.
Kelly showed signs of struggling to adapt to the professional game, retaining too much of his amateur skills and unnecessarily wasting a lot of energy with ineffective movement. He is going to have to be much more cautious and conservative against the very experienced and strong Avanesyan who will be looking to walk him down from the opening bell.
Davis Avanesyan was not a huge prospect when he turned pro and lost in only his second fight before winning 12 in a row, picking up the Russian Welterweight crown and WBC ABC Title in the process. The Russian had his breakout fight in 2015 when he stopped Charlie Navarro for the WBA (Interim) World Title.
He outpointed Shane Mosley in his first defence in 2016 before being promoted to (Regular) World Champion. Avanesyan would lose two out of his next 3 which included a close contest against Lamont Peterson and a stoppage defeat to Egidijus Kavaliauskas. He rebuilt his career by picking up the European title in 2019 and has made two defences to date both by first-round knockouts.
With Kelly vs Avanesyan, Avanesyan now has another chance to pummel himself into world level and a win over Kelly could lead to a big fight. He is already ranked in the top 10 with every governing body and Should he upset Kelly he may be able to get a world title eliminator or even a title shot in the US. However, it is a very competitive division and chances of a title shot are few and far between.
British rival Conor Benn will be watching Kelly vs Avanesyan with a keen eye as he hopes to land a huge sell-out 02 PPV fight with Kelly in the summer of 2021. But to keep that fight alive, Kelly will have to come through the very tough, strong, experienced Russian on February 20. Kelly vs Avanesyan will be the defining moment of Josh Kelly’s career so far.