David Avanesyan stops Kelly to retain European title

In a battle of youth vs. experience, the veteran showed that he had what it takes to get the victory.

David Avanesyan (27-3-1, 15 KOs) took six rounds to defeat Josh Kelly and hand the 26-year-old the first professional loss of his career. Both fighters had been waiting nearly a year for this bout to take place as it was originally scheduled for last March at the O2 Arena. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the fight to be delayed until January 30th, then another outbreak in the UK pushed it back another few weeks.

Avanesyan broke down Kelly over the course of the fight despite Kelly’s fast start in the first round. Kelly’s speed and timing had Avanesyan off his pace in the beginning. The second round was more of the same as Kelly caught Avanesyan with a left hook that sent the Russian to the ropes. The momentum switched during the third round, as Kelly had suffered a cut on the back of his head. Avanesyan’s patience showed in the fourth round, scoring with the jab while Kelly tried to move around the ring and respond with counters. The come forward style of Avanesyan was consistent through the rounds as Kelly aimed to prevent his opponent from cutting off the ring and working on the inside.

In the fifth round, Avanesyan landed some good body shots at the start as Kelly decided to go at him in close quarters. Kelly attempted to land power shots up close but also ate a few from Avanesyan in that round, and a cut above Kelly’s right eye developed which gave more trouble to the Sunderland native. In the sixth round Kelly tried to go back to boxing off of his back foot, but the high guard of Avanesyan allowed him to get within range to land more power shots. A left uppercut followed with a right hook stunned Kelly, then Avanesyan followed it with a combination to force Kelly to drop his hands to the canvas. A standing eight count was given as Kelly tried to gather himself, but as the action restarted Avanesyan connected with a two punch combination to send Kelly backwards then a flurry of shots forced Adam Booth to throw in the towel as his fighter hit the canvas to stop the bout.

The win for Avanesyan allows him to retain the European title that he was defending for the third time. A joyful reaction came from him after the fight as he had long spells of training in between the delays. “I waited a long time for this fight,” Avanesyan stated after the bout. “I put a lot of hard work into this fight. I came to join my coach and my manager from another country. I haven’t seen my children, my parents and my friends for a long time.”

He gave a lot of credit to his victory towards his trainer Carl Greaves, who has been with Avanesyan since 2016. “Carl sacrificed a lot of time with his family for my training,” he said. “He has been my friend, my driver and my coach.”

Greaves felt confident in his fighter going into Saturday, and the win was a “told you” moment to Greaves. “I knew exactly how it was going to go,” he said after his fighter got the stoppage win. “I’ve seen all of these talented kids keeping him off for a certain amount of time, 30 seconds to a minute, but he finds a way every time. I was so confident in this fight. I knew it was going to go like that.”

On the other side of the spectrum is a fighter in Kelly that was building up towards a fight with Connor Benn in the summer. The loss gives him and his team a lot to look over as he will try to rebound from his first professional loss.

Cover photo by Dave Thompson

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