Relentless David Avanesyan dispatches bloodied Josh Kelly to defend European title

The Russian had too much for the Sunderland fighter with the contest ended in the sixth round

Jack Rathborn
Sunday 21 February 2021 00:27 GMT
David Avanesyan celebrates his victory over Josh Kelly
David Avanesyan celebrates his victory over Josh Kelly (Dave Thompson)

David Avanesyan delivered a brutal six-round beating to Josh Kelly in a bloody defence of his European welterweight title.

In the long-awaited fight between the pair, following several postponements, the Russian proved his class, operating as a sniper inside the ring at a deserted Wembley Arena.

The comprehensive victory should propel Avanesyan towards a deserved world title shot in one of boxing’s most competitive divisions, with his vicious intent, often hidden behind a grin in the build-up, revealed after the first bell.

Kelly, visibly larger than the champion at the weight, delivered a beautifully left hook in the second to stun his opponent and bring the fight to life.

But Avanesyan snapped out of his brief daze before the end of the round, with Kelly given a cruel insight to just how quickly momentum can swing in championship boxing.

Before he could even regroup in his corner, crimson swiftly trickled down Kelly’s neck, with Avanesyan gleefully accepting the challenge to trade leather, perhaps affirming his own “premonition”, after so much conviction from the Briton in recent weeks that this was his time.

Kelly was hampered by cuts early on
Kelly was hampered by cuts early on (Dave Thompson)

The blistering speed from Kelly initially impressed, providing a blurring screen in front of his opponent, though it failed to stem Avanesyan’s enthusiasm, whose sizeable advantage in experience told the longer the fight went.

The Russian was more efficient too and smartly slashed away at the Sunderland fighter’s body, which predictably saw his neat work unravel.

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A gruesome red filter to the fight was only exacerbated in the fourth round with Kelly suffering another cut, this time to his right eye, with the menacing Avanesyan displaying immense composure amid the chaos.

With away fighters enjoying tremendous success in the Covid era in boxing without fans, Avanesyan, a slight underdog entering the fight, seized his opportunity here with a polished performance.

Both fighters traded heavy shots from the outset
Both fighters traded heavy shots from the outset (Mark Robinson)

Assured by his wealth of experience, having fought around the world and with considerably more rounds banked than his opponent, Avanesyan appeared the happier fighter once the relentless pace showed no signs of relenting.

Safe in the knowledge Kelly could not last, the end was in sight when he landed a crisp left in the sixth to dent Kelly, who dipped towards the canvas to earn himself a count through sheer exhaustion from attempting to swerve the punishment coming his way.

A fervent Avanesyan barely allowed the referee to allow the action to resume though, delivering a barrage of shots, punctuated with a classic one-two that was forced home like a piston.

Josh Kelly is comforted by trainer Adam Booth
Josh Kelly is comforted by trainer Adam Booth (Dave Thompson)

Kelly was left dazed and vulnerable with trainer Adam Booth tossing the towel into the ring, having claimed a week earlier that he would have saved Josh Warrington in his controversial loss to Mauricio Lara.

Admirably, he was true to his word, and as he comforted a dejected Kelly, a delirious Avanesyan jumped from one side of the ring to the other in celebration.

The emphatic conclusion to a breathtaking fight sees him on the verge of a world title, while Kelly must regroup from a damaging loss that will truly test his resolve to reach the top of the sport.

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