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The Sunderland fighter looked excellent on the scales at 146 pounds, while the Russian champion also appeared to be in peak condition at 146.4 pounds.
Avanesyan poses a greater threat than any fighter Kelly has previously faced, meaning there should be no consideration for what comes next in the Briton’s camp, but fans will naturally be imagining a domestic match-up with Conor Benn down the road, though he must first come through his own step-up in class against Samuel Vargas.
The Russian’s two wins over Kerman Lejarraga and a faded version of the legendary Shane Mosley, not to mention pushing Lamont Peterson 12 rounds back in 2017, mean he holds the superior experience at this level. Kelly admits as much but has vowed to go to a “new level” tonight to show his quality.
There has been a war of words between the camps, adding extra spice to this contest, which backs up Matchroom’s first card back at Wembley Arena last weekend when Josh Warrington was stunned by Mauricio Lara.
Kelly, under the guidance of trainer Adam Booth, has revealed he has a “premonition” and “good energy” heading into this contest, which ends a 14-month spell out of the ring.
Check out the rest of the card below, which includes a potentially explosive meeting between Florian Marku and Rylan Charlton, also at 147 pounds.
Eddie Hearn confirmed on Wednesday that both fighters tested negative for Covid-19 in the fight bubble, clearing one of the final hurdles to the fight going ahead.
Here is everything you need to know about the fight:
When and where is the fight?
The fight is at Wembley Arena, London on Saturday, 20 February, with the undercard starting at 7pm GMT and the main event will follow expected ring walks at 10pm GMT.
How can I watch the fight?
In the U.K. and Ireland, Avanesyan vs. Kelly will air on Sky Sports Arena, the headline bout will be added to Sky Sports Main Event too. You can therefore catch a live stream of the card and main event through the Sky Go app, or if you’re not a subscriber, stream the action through NowTV.
Everywhere else in the world (except Australia and New Zealand), DAZN is the platform to watch the fights through a live stream, more information on subscriptions can be found here.
Tale of the tape
Months since last fight
5 ft 10in
5 ft 8in
Official weight (pounds)
Method of victory
Kelly KO/TKO or DQ: 7/2
Kelly by Decision/Technical Decision: 7/5
Avanesyan by KO/TKO or DQ: 21/10
Avanesyan by Decision/Technical Decision: 9/2
David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly - European welterweight title
Robbie Davies Jr. vs. Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela - 10 rounds, junior welterweight
Florian Marku vs. Rylan Charlton - 10 rounds, welterweight
Johnny Fisher vs. Matt Gordon - 6 rounds, heavyweight
Jordan Gill vs. Cesar Juarez -10 rounds, featherweight
Kelly on Avanesyan
“I’ve got great respect for David, and I’ll just echo what he said, family and health is the most important thing.
“We’ve got to get a job done on Saturday. It’s my main aim in 2021 to start off with this European Title. I’ve stepped up to levels that I couldn’t even imagine I could do in the gym.
“I thought last time I was ready, but Covid came and it got cancelled. I was nowhere near ready compared to what I am now. All I need to do is go and put a show on on Saturday.
“I’ve done a lot of talking this week and I feel like I’ve expressed myself fully on what I believe will happen. We’ve just got to do the dance on Saturday. I think David is a strong capable fighter. I believe that I’m a big Welterweight, and I’m strong.
“I’m a very strong Welterweight. Saturday night is going to be a night for everyone to enjoy I think. Now it’s time to quiet down, focus in and get the job done.”
Avanesyan on Kelly
“The first time we were supposed to fight Kelly said ‘no fight’ three hours before the first bell,” said Avanesyan. “It was very difficult for me. You give everything to this sport, all of that hard work and losing the weight. I still don’t understand why. People say that Kelly was feeling unwell, but I saw Kelly in the evening after the weigh-in looking happy and speaking with friends. Everything was good.
“I’ve been training for this fight for over two years. I hope everything will be okay this time. I will never disrespect any fighter, but let’s just say the events of the past couple of years have made me very angry. The fact I have to spend Christmas away from my family and young child has given me extra motivation, not that any was needed.
“Kelly is a good fighter. He was a good amateur boxer. His professional record is good so far. He’s sharp and fast. I have the experience over him. Now is my time. I need to take the big fights. I’m ready. I’m working with my team to give everything for another World Title. My style is to give everything, take my time and ensure that I get the win.
“I want to show the fans a good fight. I’ll do my best and give everything to win. After Kelly I need another World Title fight. For now, all of my focus and energy is on my fight on February 20 and defending my European Title. I am here to deal with Kelly once and for all.”