Josh Kelly will need to revisit the drawing board following his first professional loss to David Avanesyan.
The 2016 Olympian Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KOs) was bloodied and battered throughout his sixth-round, welterweight affair at the SSE Arena in Wembley against Avanesyan (27-3-1, 15 KOs).
The aggressive Armenian counterpart drew blood from the back of the head and above the right eye and scored two knockdowns in the sixth round before Kelly trainer Adam Booth threw in the towel to save his fighter from further punishment.
Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn believes the 26-year-old British boxer will be best served to step up to the super welterweight division in order to bounce back from his recent setback.
“When we talk about the weight, the impression that I got was he made the weight better than he ever has with that 147 limit,” Hearn told IFL. “But he’s huge at 147. God knows how much weight he puts on [after weighing in]. I want to see him move to 154 because he’ll be more comfortable up there, and more robust as well.
“When you look at the division, especially domestically, I know Josh is looking beyond and he should. But when he comes back, when you start linking him in with Cheeseman, Eggington, Fowler, Fitzgerald, Metcalf, then there are some great fights.
“So it’s something he should look at moving to 154, but it’s going to take him a while to get over this. He’s going to be really disappointed because he believed this was the start of a big year for him, and now it’s about the comeback. I hope Josh doesn’t lose heart with it.”
The 32-year-old Avanesyan came into the fight having previously scored a win over a faded Shane Mosley and suffering losses to Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Lamont Peterson.
Avanesyan’s world-class experience proved to be the difference-maker against the still-green Kelly in what will ultimately be one of the feathers in his cap once he calls it a career.
“Going into the fight, [Kelly] said to me that he didn’t feel good, strong, or right going into the fifth round,” said Hearn. “He was out-hustled and out-balled by a very strong fighter in David Avanesyan. [Kelly will] want to rematch him. It was a stunning fight. In the round before [the sixth], Avanesyan was coming like a train, and he’s strong and he can punch. We’ve got to give credit to the better man, and that’s David Avanesyan. There’s no disgrace in losing to a world-class fighter in Avaneysan. He looked like a man on a mission last night. I thought he looked like a guy that wasn’t going to be denied.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com