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Josh Kelly Focused, Views Avanesyan as The Gatekeeper For a Big Future

“I can’t even put it into words,” said Josh Kelly, explaining the disappointment that his fight with David Avanesyan was again postponed due the most recent UK coronavirus lockdown.

“The world keeps spinning and it is what it is,” he added. “You’ve just got to keep in the gym because it’s going to be on sooner rather than later so I just want to get in there and get it done.”

He says he’s chomping at the bit. The fight was one of the first big bouts to fall by the wayside when the pandemic broke loose in early 2020.

It was going to be in front of a big crowd at the O2 Arena, then it was gone, on ice for months as boxing slowly returned.


But Kelly-Avanesyan wasn’t one of the first fights back and when it was announced, for late in January, it was hoped the crowds might be back, especially given that 1,000 managed to attend Anthony Joshua-Kubrat Pulev back in December at Wembley Arena.

Instead, Josh had to wait and it’s been hard for him because there’s a hyper-critical Kelly group out there that think Kelly found his level in his draw with Ray Robinson in Madison Square Garden in New York and they contend that the Adam Booth trained protégé is all sizzle, no steak.

That same group contends Kelly is running scared of Avanesyan and if he isn’t, he should be.

All this doesn’t just motivate ‘PBK’ but it means the disappointments of the last year are even harder to swallow given he has a point to prove.

“The thing is, it always will be and always is just [another] fight,” he said. ‘But it’s got a bit more meat behind it so I can get my teeth into it a bit more so it means a bit more than any other fight I’ve had in the past.”

There’s been bad blood but Kelly said he’s in great shape already and he’s been living in a flat next to the gym as he prepares for the big-date, whenever it might eventually be.

It is believed it could be announced early as Monday as Matchroom looks to unveil its next wave of fights.

For now, though, Kelly is blocking out the noise.

“I’m not on social media a lot of the time,” he explained. “I keep away from it and with the pandemic I try to keep myself off it, it’s just depressing. With all of the news and people dying I just don’t like going on there.”

Instead, he’s thinking positively about what the year might bring and where he wants to be. He remains convinced that despite these uncertain times 2021 will be his year.

“Yes, 100 percent,” he said, “There’s things [goals] in my head that I’ve got nailed down 100 percent. If it comes to fruition it’s another thing just because of everything that’s happening. Things seem to be getting worse out there, it just seems to be going mad. But there are dates that [promoter] Eddie [Hearn]’s discussed so we’ll get the Avanesyan fight done and then we’ll move on from there because nothing else really exists apart from this at the moment – and he’s the gatekeeper for the future that I have planned.”

For now, though, Kelly is working with Booth and staying both prepared and focused.

Booth has had his fair share of training boxers for bouts that fell out of bed, and it’s something he’s accustomed to.

“There’s always easy and hard days,” said Kelly, of the holding pattern he’s currently in. “I think Adam is more experienced than anybody at this sort of thing and he’s got a plan in place and I’m living the life, which is what you’ve got to do.”

He has to fend of the disappointment once more, as did many in British boxing when the Board of Control announced earlier this month that there would be no professional boxing in January, which instantly killed off their January 30 date. Kelly and Avanesyan had originally been set to fight at the end of 2018, only for Kelly to come down with an illness on the morning of the bout. Their rearranged date for March 2020 was set to be one of British boxing’s banner nights last year but Kelly, a former Team GB starlet and 10-0-1 pro, has been out of the prize ring since December 2019.

Now the rug has been pulled from under them both again but their grudge needs to be settled, and it will be.

“You’ve got everything tailored to that date so when it’s taken away from you and it’s not your doing and it’s not the other guy’s doing what can you do,” concluded Kelly, diplomatically.

There’s not much else to say that hasn’t been said about this fight, but it still needs to happen and it has every chance of being well worth the wait.

And that’s saying something.  

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