Former WBA world champion David Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) will defend his EBU European Welterweight Title against undefeated rising star Josh Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) in a bitter grudge match at The O2 in London on Saturday March 28, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN in the US.
The pair were set to clash before in December 2018 but 'PBK' withdrew on the morning of their fight, leading to calls of being a 'bottlejob' from 'Ava's' manager Neil Marsh, something that still niggles at Kelly today, so it's a bit of a grudge match with both boxers having something to prove, but who wins and why? BBN asked their expert panel to decide:
"This is a great European scrap with Josh Kelly being a reflex fighter and David Avanesyan being a puncher. I was training Dean Byrne when he fought Avanesyan a few years and recall Byrne saying to me how hard he hit. Having sparred many rounds with the Pac-Man, Byrne was shocked at the power and was dropped several times.
I’m going Avanesyan by late stoppage if Kelly runs out of steam which has been his only flaw to date."
Matchroom Boxing Promoter
“This is just a brilliant fight - absolute sink or swim time.
Avanesyan is a world class Welterweight who sits in the top 10 with every governing body but for every great Olympic prospect comes judgement day and this is it for Josh Kelly. The fight that could turn him into a real star and a legitimate World Title contender. It’s the ultimate stage, the ultimate test - don’t miss it.”
"I believe that this fight people are gonna start giving David the credit that he deserves, as he never really gets any, especially after he beat Shane Mosley, even though people said he was past it but still winning a world title.
Josh Kelly is a talented boxer when he isn’t trying too hard. I think when Kelly tries a bit too much, he makes his work look sloppy. It’s gonna be an interesting fight but I believe David to win on close points win or a late knockout."
IBF European featherweight champion
"David wins by KO. I know what he’s capable of as we were team mates for over a year. Kelly is a really good fighter, but too early for him, in my opinion."
"This is the perfect fight for Josh Kelly to prove if he is the real deal.
Avanesyan has two losses, including one by knockout to recent Terence Crawford victim, Egidijus Kavaliauskas. However, it would be wrong to view him as a gatekeeper, particularly after his two stoppage victories over highly-touted Kerman Lejjaraga.
The Russian has good fundamentals and being just 31 years old, it would be fair to say that he still harbours world title aspirations of his own and won't lie down willingly.
Kelly on the other hand is flashy but his lack of power and tendency to lack concentration throughout fights, has led some to believe he will be exposed at world level.
This will be a see-saw battle but ultimately, it will be decided by the judges being swayed by a home crowd that will cheer loudly for every eye-catching moment of success, managed by Kelly."
Dee 'The Hat' Taggart
"I know David’s team well. Trainer Carl Greaves is a proper boxing man and Neil Marsh is is one of the best managers in the game. Prospects like Josh and trainers like Adam Booth get the best of everything, fights like like this is where they need to step up and show why. Most will fancy them to do so but I’m not so sure, I fancy David by late stoppage in a big upset."
Promoter, VIP Promotions
"I’m going with Avanesyan, purely based on that I cannot see how Kelly can hurt him and I can see Avanesyan hurting him when he finally gets to him, may take a few rounds but when he does he will not let him off and it'll be game over."
British featherweight champion
"Great fight and very interesting clash of styles. Lots of questions will be asked of both men. I think Avanesyan will come up with more answers and win on points."
"Avanesyan-Kelly has been a fight that has been talked about since Kelly was named EBU mandatory challenger, now it is official for March 28. For me, this is a very good European-level bout and there is something of a score to settle between the two fighters. A lot has been said out of the ring over the past year. Having said that, Kelly has to prove something still in his boxing career, whereas for Avanesyan, he too is looking to prove more during his career resurgence.
A good matchup between a solid veteran competitor and a prospect with some questions over his overall boxing ability. It will be a massacre in the ring but for me, Avanesyan edges this one in under eight rounds when the pair enter the ring on March 28."
"I know Avenesyan and his team have wanted this fight for a while. I spoke to them last year and they are confident they will take care of business. I have to agree. Avenesyan has been operating at a higher level for a number of years now. He is current European champion having won the belt away from home in Bilbao, he has then rematched Lejarraga and gone on to make a defence in Barcelona against Jose del Rio. I don't think Kelly has shown he is near this sort of level yet in his career although this might be the fight to show us what he is really made of.
I'm going for Avanesyan by knockout around round 7-8."
"I kow Carl Greaves and believe he's one of the best trainers/managers in boxing. He's got unrivalled knowledge and he guides his fighters with care and attention. He knows that Avanesyan beats Kelly and I trust his confidence, too.
Ava is a pure boxing man, he dedicates himself to the sport and even though he defeated Shane Mosley, he still went in as the underdog against Kerman Lejarraga in their European title fight. He was something like 27-0 with over 20 knockouts, had just beaten Frankie Gavin, but Ava destroyed him. He then had to do an immediate rematch and made even shorter work of him by knocking him out in the first round. That was three fights in Spain and three wins.
I think that Ava, with his vaster and richer experience, will get to Josh past the midway point from round seven onwards and will force a stoppage around the ninth round."
Welsh Area champion
"I’m always worried for Josh Kelly, as flashy as he is and good on the eye I think he misses a little something that’ll let him do what he does at the very top. I’ve said he will be caught with a left hook and I believe Ava will be the guy to land it."
"When it was first scheduled, Avanesyan was the underdog but thought he was good value. His wins since have been great and he looks better than ever.
This is Kelly's toughest fight by a long stretch and I expect a distance fight, with Kelly just shading it on a split or majority decision, think his speed will be key."
Three-time Southern Area champion
"I believe this is a nip and tuck fight and a real cross roads fight for Josh Kelly. I feel Avanesyan will start on the front foot and Josh will need his slick skills to come through a few storms but I genuinely believe he will raise his game as proper fighters do and get the job done. He’s an exceptional talent and great to watch. I see a tough first four rounds then Kelly pulling away with the added skill and accuracy."
"Josh Kelly v David Avanesyan is a very good fight but I think Avanesyan wants it more and he'll stop Kelly late on. I think Kelly will start fast and will have a lead but I think Avanesyan will catch up with him and stop him.
I think Avanesyan will win between rounds 8-11."