David Avanesyan was set to face Josh Kelly in Dec. 2018 before Kelly pulled out on the day of the fight due to illness, with a lot of bad blood quickly developing, particularly on Avanesyan’s side.
Since then, Russia’s Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KO) has gone on a tear in Spain, winning the European welterweight title with a ninth round stoppage of heavily favored Kerman Lejarraga in Mar. 2019, followed by a first round stoppage in a rematch six months later, and then a first round knockout of Jose del Rio in December.
Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KO), meanwhile, has seen more questions open up about his potential. The flashy 25-year-old went 2-0-1 last year, winning wide decisions over overmatched opponents in Przemyslaw Runowski and Wiston Campos, with a draw against Ray Robinson between them in a trip to New York.
Avanesyan-Kelly has been talked about since Kelly was named EBU mandatory challenger, and now it’s official. Matchroom have announced the fight for Mar. 28 at the O2 Arena in London.
Along with this just being a very good European-level fight, there’s something of a score to settle between these two, and a lot of things have been said over the past year and change. Kelly has to prove something still, and Avanesyan, too, is looking to prove this career resurgence isn’t just the result of good matchmaking.
It’s a good matchup between a solid, capable veteran and a prospect with some questions about his overall game. Nothing not to like, really, so long as nobody gets sick on Mar. 27.