David Avanesyan stopped Josh Kelly in six rounds to retain his EBU European welterweight title on February 20. The pair battled it out in the main event of Matchroom Boxing fight card live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN across the world from The SSE Arena, Wembley.
Sunderland’s Kelly suffered his first professional defeat at the hands of Avanesyan, the relentless Russian champion, who forced Kelly’s trainer Adam Booth to throw in the towel after two knockdowns in a punishing sixth round.
Avanesyan had been made to wait for Kelly, with the fight twice postponed, but his sustained assault broke down the 26-year-old’s resistance, with British rival Conor Benn watching from ringside as part of the Sky Sports team.
“I feel very very good,” Avanesyan told Sky Sports afterwards. “I waited a long time for this fight. I put a lot of hard work into this fight. I came to join my coach and my manager from another country. I’ve had long spells away from my children. I miss them. I haven’t seen my children, my parents and my friends for a long time.
“Thank you to my team and to the English fans for giving me this opportunity. Thank you to Matchroom, they put on the number one best show. I’ve had many big nights against the likes of Shane Mosley and Lamont Peterson, but this one with Matchroom is number one.
“I am very happy. Thank you to god for my win today. Thank you to my manager and my coach. Carl sacrificed a lot of time with his family for my training. He has been my friend, my driver and my coach. I don’t like to speak too much. This is business. I know Josh is fast. I am fast too. Boxing is difficult. When you lose, many people think you are finished. This is boxing, you go down. This is life. I will wake up tomorrow morning a champion.”
Trainer Carl Greaves said: “I told everybody this would happen and they all thought I was a crazy coach who knows nothing. I knew exactly how it was going to go. I’ve spent over five years with David now. I’ve seen so much. I’ve seen all of these talented kids keeping him off for a certain amount of time, 30 seconds to a minute, but he finds a way every time. I was so confident in this fight. I knew it was going to go like that. I’m a bit gutted because I had £500 on round seven!”
Florian Marku TKO’s Rylan Charlton in co-feature
Florian Marku climbed off the canvas to stop Rylan Charlton in eight rounds in the evening’s chief-support bout.
‘The Albanian King’ toppled to the canvas in the sixth round, but then forced the stoppage with a ferocious response and called for a future clash with Benn, who was watching from ringside as part of the Sky Sports team.
Charlton was punished with stinging counters in the third, and the Norwich man appeared in serious trouble when he staggered through the closing seconds of the fourth following a big right hand from Marku.
Uncorking an eye-catching uppercut, Marku appeared in complete control in the fifth, but he suffered a shock knockdown in the next round after a looping left hand from Charlton. Marku ripped in punches in round eight with savage intent on the weary Charlton, prompting the towel to be thrown in.
“I am really happy,” said Marku. “A lot of people thought that he would humiliate me and knock me out, but I showed that I can box. I will learn a lot from this fight. Three weeks before the fight, I dislocated a finger in my left hand. My team and all of the staff know that I was injured but I was never going to pull out of the fight. I came here to fight.
“After the fifth round I started feeling my hand. It was not a problem. I am happy about the performance. Rylan took so many good hits in the head. He took a lot of punishment. I was beating him and I was talking to him. I told him I was going to beat him and talk to him. I was telling him I’m not Joe Laws. I take the win and we go forward.
“His face was swollen and it was a good decision from his corner. He took a lot of punishment. I love to fight, this is my life. Thanks to the UK fans that believe in me. They like to see me fight. I love pressure. I’ll fight whoever my team S-JAM boxing decide next. Sam Jones and Adam Morallee got me into this position. I have the best team around me.”
The full fight results from Avanesyan vs Kelly card can be found below.
Avanesyan vs Kelly results
- David Avanesyan def. Josh Kelly by TKO (R6 at 2:15) – retains EBU European welterweight title
- Florian Marku def. Rylan Charlton by TKO (R8 at 2:18)
- Gabriel Valenzuela def. Robbie Davies Jr by majority decision (94–94, 96-95, 96-95) – wins IBF Intercontinental super lightweight title
- Johnny Fisher def. Matt Gordon by KO (R1 at 2:29)
- Jordan Gill def. Cesar Juarez by unanimous decision (98-92, 98-93, 96-94)