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Anthony Fowler out with COVID, replaced by Robbie Davies Jr on Avanesyan-Kelly undercard

Fowler was slated to face Jorge Fortea

Manchester Arena Boxing Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

The eternally cursed David Avanesyan-Josh Kelly card has taken a slight hit, though thankfully not to the main event this time. Matchroom announced today that Anthony Fowler tested positive for COVID, scrapping a planned stay-busy bout with Jorge Fortea. Instead, Robbie Davies Jr. will take on Mexico’s Gabriel Valenzuela for an IBF super lightweight trinket.

It’s a slightly better fight than Fowler-Fortea, though that’s not a terribly high bar to clear. Davies (20-2, 13 KO), whose previous defeat came via shock comeback knockout to Michal Syrowatka in 2017, lost a gritty battle with Lewis Ritson two years back that would have hypothetically put him in line for a crack at a WBA title. He went 1-0 in 2020, beating professional victim Damian Leonardo Yapur.

Valenzuela (22-2-1, 13 KO) has a pretty record and a 20-fight unbeaten streak dating back to 2017, but it’s largely fluff. The most recognizable name on his ledger is Daniel Echeverria, who usually spends his time getting blown up by prospects.

The other noteworthy attraction besides the main event pits Florian Marku against Rylan Charlton in an interesting welterweight clash. Marku (7-0-1, 5 KO) is coming off a bogus draw against Jamie Stewart he should have won, while Charlton (6-0-1, 3 KO) took Joe Laws behind the woodshed last time out.

“Joe Laws is a great fighter and he’ll be back,” said Charlton. “I took it on two weeks’ notice. I’d been ticking over, two or three days a week kind of thing, I wasn’t 100% fit from having a full camp. You’ve got to take risks otherwise you don’t go anywhere in life. We took the risk and it paid off. It was easier than I thought to be honest.

“Florian’s last performance wasn’t any good. He’s got to come to the table with everything this time. He’s got to perform in this fight. We’ll see the best Florian Marku against me, but it’s not going to be enough. He’s alright, I don’t rate him that much.

“He was a kickboxing World Champion, so I respect that. If you come into the boxing game calling everyone out, you’re going to come unstuck. I don’t think his boxing skill is up there at all really, I don’t rate it. He can call me what he wants. When I beat him up, it’s just going to look bad on him because he got beaten up by a body builder.

“I’ve got respect for everyone that gets in the ring, especially anyone that gets in the ring with me – I wouldn’t want to get in the ring with me! I’m there to do a job. We can get in the bubble and he can mouth off all he wants, but I’m there to do a job. By any means necessary, I’m there to win – knockout or points, whatever. It’s going to be a Charlton win.”