Eddie Hearn says he thinks Josh Kelly will come flying out the gates immediately on Saturday, looking to knockout EBU welterweight champion David Avanesyan right away.Hearn feels that the added muscle that Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) has put on for this fight will make him come after Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) to beat him at his own game.
Avanesyan could be in danger early, says Hearn, and he’s predicting a win for the 26-year-old 2016 Olympian. It might be the wrong tactic for Kelly to take by looking to trade power shots with Avanesyan because he’s not really known for being a big puncher.
Unless the added bulk that Kelly has put on has increased his punching power, it could slow him down, making it easier for Avanesyan to hit with his powerful body shots.
The fact that Kelly has put on a lot of muscle weight for this fight suggests that he’s worried. Avanesyan is a fighter that made a huge surge of improvement in the last couple of years, rare for a fighter.
The Russian fighter has gone from being a fighter with a fairly low percentage of knockouts to suddenly stopping everybody with body shots.
You’ve got to give Avanesyan’s trainer credit for helping transform him into a devastating body punch in the last couple of years because he’s an entirely different fighter on offense now compared to in the past.
Kelly in great shape
“It’s such a brilliant fight. We waited so long for this fight, but this is a world-class fight,” said Hearn to iFL TV on the David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly match.
“No disrespect to the European title, which is fantastic to win. This feels like a world title. The attention the broadcasters and the media are giving it and the quality of the fight, this is a brilliant fight.
“The main event [Avanesyan – Kelly] for me is breathtaking. Avanesyan looks like Avanesyan always looks, like a f**** animal, and I think Josh Kelly looks in the best shape of his career,” said Hearn.
All the hard work that Kelly has put into his physique has paid off because he’s now bigger than Avanesyan, but we still don’t know if that will translate into punching power and endurance.
Whatever size that Kelly has put on, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to absorb Avanesyan’s body shots any better if he starts teeing off.
Hearn: It will be dangerous for Avanesyan
“He may have to go to places that he’s never been before tomorrow night, but I promise you he’s ready to do it if he has to,” Hearn said of Kelly.
“He’s going to start really fast, and I think it’s going to be really dangerous for Avanesyan early in this fight,” said Hearn.
It could be a mistake on Kelly’s part if he comes looking to slug with Avanesyan right off the bat because that’s when he’s at his most dangerous. In Avanesyan’s last two fights against Jose del Rios and Kerman Lejarraga, he’s knocked them both out in the first round.
That wasn’t by accident that Avanesyan stopped them. He started quickly in both fights and targeted the body of those two solid fighters, causing them to fold.
Kelly’s ability to take body shots may prove to be no better than Lejarrage and de Rios. That’s why it would have been better for Kelly to have come in leaner for this so that he could stay in motion for 12 rounds to avoid being a stationary target for Avanesyan’s body shots.
“Josh Kelly is going to be so sharp, so switched on. Both guys want to win so bad; both teams want to win so bad,” said Hearn.
“As you know being around them, they’re so confident, both teams. They don’t believe in anything else other than a victory for their man.
“So it’s going to be a cracker. I think you think so going by last performances and on paper, but Josh is in great shape, and I do think he’s going to be really sharp early in this fight,” said Hearn when asked if Avanesyan will be strong early.
“I think they [Team Kelly] believe they’re going to take Avanesyan out early in this fight. It’s going to be a tough job to do it, but he will be super sharp early in this fight,” said Hearn.
If Kelly will score a stoppage victory on Saturday, he stands a better chance of doing it early rather than late. If Kelly waits too long, he may wind up getting knocked out himself by Avaneysan.
Also, Kelly has stronger early in his recent fights against Wiston Campos, Ray Robinson, and Przemyslaw Runowski. In the second half of those fights, Kelly gassed out and got sloppy.
Campos and Robinson did a lot of damage to Kelly’s face, making him look like he came out of a ‘Rocky’ movie.
He took a truckload of punishment in both of those fights, making it clear that he’s not an elite-level fighter at this time.
Avanesyan not worried about the judges
“Carl tells me I need to pressure, I pressure. Carl tells me I need to change, I change,” said Avanesyan. “I give everything to win this fight.
“Many fans message me and say, ‘David, please stop him. Bad decision.’ Boxing is difficult.
“One punch, and everything changes. No,” said Avanesyan when asked if he’s worried about the judges.
“I’m not thinking about the judges. I only think about winning the fight,” said Avanesysan.
If Avanesyan loses by a controversial decision the way that Kiko Martinez did against Zelfa Barrera last Saturday night, he may change his opinion about the judges not being a problem.
It would be better for Avanesyan to be thinking knockout all the way if he wants to avoid getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the scoring of the fight.
Some boxing fans argue that the UK has become like Germany when it came to visiting fighters finding it difficult to win decisions. Fortunately for Avanesyan, he’s got the punching power to take the judges out of play on Saturday night.
As long the referee doesn’t run interference for Kelly by getting in the way of action, Avanesyan should be able to work to try and score a knockout.