A fight two years in the making, Britain’s Josh Kelly will finally get the chance to test his welterweight credentials as he takes on European champion David Avanesyan on Saturday night.

Victory for Kelly at the SSE Arena, Wembley could well set him on the way to a world title challenge or perhaps a big domestic outing against the likes of Conor Benn.

Avanesyan comes into this one on the back of three straight wins, two against Kerman Lejarraga and most recently against Jose del Rio back in December 2019. We preview all the action ahead of another exciting evening of boxing.

Don’t sleep on Avanesyan

British boxing fans will be all too wary of discounting David Avanesyan after Josh Warrington’s surprise defeat to Mauricio Lara last weekend. Even Warrington himself had admitted to “overlooking” his opponent in the build-up, as hopes of it being a stepping-stone to bigger fights crumbled following the seventh-round stoppage.

Kelly will therefore be aware of the dangers presented by his opponent on Saturday night, and will be keen to avoid the banana skin that befell his British compatriot. Avanesyan is far from a stepping-stone. A former WBA regular and interim champion, the Russian boasts impressive wins over the likes of America’s Shane Mosley and is on a mission to prove himself as one of the top fighters in the division.

His aggressive style and classy boxing skills allow him to put his opponents under constant pressure throughout the fight. He’ll have no problem hanging in the pocket with Kelly and the 32-year-old will look to use all the experience he’s gathered during his 30 professional outings thus far.

Although Avenesyan’s reputation suggests he’s more of a ‘stand-and-banger’, the improvements the Russian has made to his game since losing the biggest fight of his career against Lamont Peterson have been impressive to see. Whilst Kelly will be hoping for a boxing match, Avenesyan will have no concerns about turning this one into a good old-fashioned fight.

His power will be a concern for Kelly, with 53% of his career victories coming via knockout, including each of his last three – two of which didn’t make it beyond round one. The Russian is a 21/20 to shot to win via KO, TKO or DQ on Saturday and if he can rattle Kelly early on, 12/1 for Avenesyan to win during rounds three or four is an interesting proposition.

Kelly can go to the top

The two-fighters are at different points in their careers. Kelly comes into this one with just 11 professional bouts to his name and still at just 26 years old, he is primed to begin his ascent in the division.

Neither fighter has fought since December 2019, so whilst ring-rust could well be a factor for either man in the early rounds, both have had time to prepare a solid game plan for this one. After taking perhaps an undeserved draw against Ray Robinson, arguably Kelly’s only world-level challenge thus far, he followed that up with a fairly routine victory over Wiston Campos and will be expecting a tougher test on Saturday night. He’ll need to win impressively if he wants to put some of the division’s bigger names on notice.

As a former Olympic medallist, Kelly will expect to boast the better technical skills and should be confident he can box to orders given the time between his last fight and this one. His three-inch reach advantage over Avenesyan should allow him to sit behind his jab and control the range if his opponent gives him an opportunity to set the tempo.

Whilst Kelly is not the biggest puncher in the division, he is one of the sharpest and he’ll likely look to wear his opponent down with volume before closing the show late on in the fight. With this in mind, Kelly to win in rounds 9-10 is very tempting at 16/1 and a Kelly win is currently 4/6.

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