Last week, Mauricio Lara caused a front-runner for Upset of the Year by stunning Josh Warrington and this weekend European welterweight champion David Avanesyan and challenger Josh Kelly have been tipped to compete in one of the Fights of the Year.
The 30-fight 32-year-old veteran Russian is trained by Carl Greaves and the coach is convinced his man wins.
“I have been saying it’s a 50-50 fight because of Josh’s amateur pedigree and style-wise it makes it difficult for David, but the more I break it down, from what I’ve seen of Kelly, unless he shows me something different from his last few performances, I can’t see how he can keep someone like David off him,” said Greaves on the eve of the fight. “David can let him have his little bursts but he’s going to make him work hard for three minutes of every round. Once it gets passed those middle rounds, it’s going to get gruelling. If David’s still in there I feel like it will be our fight. I really do.”
Greaves and Avanesyan’s manager Neil Marsh have been bullish.
This fight has been on and off more than a light-switch but it’s finally here.
Greaves thinks the Russian’s best chance is to outfight Kelly, a precocious former amateur who boxed at the 2016 Olympics.
“You know what? I don’t think he [David] can outbox him but I just feel that I’ve seen it all before with all these top boys, we know Kelly was a great amateur and top Olympian but I’ve seen David in sparring with better fighters than Kelly and they all look great for two or three rounds but once David gets to grips with them, they just can’t keep him off. He’s that physically strong, and I feel looking at Josh’s last few performances he can’t sustain an attack, he can’t keep the pressure on, he has bursts and then he wants to rest and I don’t think he’d be able to do that with David.”
Greaves also reckons Kelly has toiled to make the 147lbs limit and predicts his fighter will get stronger as the fight goes on.
He added: “David hits hard to the body and I just feel that Josh is going to try and get David out of there early and if David can weather that early storm – and he can’t get David out of there early, while he’s strong and got something in the tank – the longer it goes the more it suits David and he’ll grind him down and I really believe that. I’ve seen it all before. If you look at David against Peterson and Kavaliauskas, although they were world class fighters, David was a shadow of himself in those fights and in 2019 when he fought Kerman Lejarraga he was a dangerous man. He was about 27-0 had about 22 knockouts, heavy-handed, strong and David took him apart. Kelly isn’t a heavy puncher, he’s not as accurate as he looks and there’s a lot of nervous energy that you can’t have at this level.”
Kelly’s coach Adam Booth countered: “I never think it’s a good thing to go into a fight relying on weaknesses of the other fella. I always talk about the strengths they’ve got and try and visualise them at their best. I don’t like looking at someone’s weaknesses and going into it with that as a focus, because that’s not my mindset.”
Critics say Kelly is all show and no go, all sizzle no steak, but Booth and Kelly’s gym-mates argue they have seen things the wider public have yet to be treated to, and they will be surprised by his mettle as well as his skills.
“[Will he show] Stuff he’s never done before? I don’t know. Stuff that people haven’t seen before? Yes. But he’s an 11-fight pro and we expect him to prove what we already know.”
This week, plenty have pointed out that Kelly is looking leaner and fitter than he has been. Booth says Kelly’s engine has improved, and he’s made improvements across the board.
“Everything that he’s done over the last year or so has taken him to new levels over and over again. Ordinarily he would have fought three-four times since December 2019 and you would have seen the progression, but because it’s been behind closed doors you haven’t seen every aspect of him improving.”
Apparently, there was fisticuffs between the two teams in the bubble this week but both sides were tight-lipped over the phone. “It’s not for me to say…,” said Greaves. “It’s been a fight week for a really competitive fight,” said Booth. “We are looking forward to tomorrow night…”
So is the boxing world.