Whisper it quietly, but after three previously failed attempts, a long awaited Welterweight clash finally tops the bill at the SSE Arena, Wembley this Saturday night.
David Avanesyan (26-3-1, KO14) and Josh Kelly (10-0-1, KO6) will hopefully meet once and for all in London in a contest that has been over two years in the making.
The pair were originally due to meet in December 2018, but Kelly withdrew due to illness on the morning of the fight in Sheffield.
Ever since, Avanesyan’s team have accused Kelly of running scared, something the Sunderland man has obviously strenuously denied, and the pair went their separate ways.
They were due to clash at the O2 Arena, London, in March 2020, but the Coronavirus Pandemic put paid to that, and, when a new date of January this year was announced, it was again pulled as UK Boxing was suspended for the month.
So, the pair now look to make it fourth time lucky, in what should be an intriguing match.
Avanesyan is an experienced fighter, with 30 paid fights on his slate, and has had a well travelled career thus far. He is a former interim WBA Welterweight champion, and outscored a faded version of Shane Mosley in May 2016.
He failed in a bid for the full belt, when Lamont Peterson took a February 2017 points win.
The Carl Greaves-trained Russian was also stopped a year later by Egidijus Kavaliauskas, and that looked like he had reached his peak.
The Kelly fight was shelved at the last possible minute, and Avanesyan decided that he would travel to Spain in March 2019 to take on the highly rated European champion, Kerman Lajarraga.
Behind on the cards, Avanesyan forced a ninth round stoppage, and then stopped the Spaniard inside a round in a rematch six months later.
‘Ava’ was last out in December 2019, defending his belt with another one round wipeout, this time against Jose del Rio in Barcelona.
Kelly was an amateur standout, a 2016 Olympian, and when he joined the paid ranks, big things were expected.
He has blown hot and cold so far in his professional campaign, winning Commonwealth and continental belts, with the odd flat performance thrown in.
‘PBK’ was held to a June 2019 draw by Ray Robinson in New York in a fight that Kelly just failed to get to grips with, and that remains his sole career blemish.
He was also last seen in December 2019, in a landslide points win in Phoenix, Arizona against Wiston Campos.
Prediction: It’s a massive fight, and one that can go in a number of ways.
The freshness of Kelly is taking on the experience of Avanesyan, and the Russian is in the form of his life.
Kelly has looked flat at times, but this may be as a result of his opposition, and he may rise to the occasion if a class operator is put in front of him.
There is also a carat of a potential blockbuster with Conor Benn for Kelly, and a return to the world title scene for Avanesyan, so this one is finely poised.
I tentatively lean towards the experience of the Russian here, and he will look to rough Kelly up and make it an uncomfortable night for the man from the North East.
The pick is for Avanesyan to take a razor thin win on the cards, but I wouldn’t be shocked at a draw and rematch.
Robbie Davies Junior (20-2, KO13) makes a welcome return to action, and he contests the vacant IBF Intercontinental belt at Super Lightweight against Gabriel Valenzuela (22-2-1, KO13).
Davies continues his rebuild from his entertaining October 2019 points loss to Lewis Ritson, and won all eight rounds on his March 2020 return against Damien Leonardo Yapur in Manchester.
Valenzuela is another unknown Mexican that could spell danger, and is unbeaten in twenty fights since two early career setbacks.
If Davies can stick to his boxing, and not get embroiled like he does on occasion, he can diffuse an early Valenzuela onslaught to take a clear win on the scorecards.
Jordan Gill (25-1, KO7) is still one to watch, and he attempts to build on an impressive August 2020 points win against Reece Bellotti with a win over former world title challenger, Cesar Juarez (25-9, KO19).
The contest is a ten rounder at Featherweight. Juarez is still only 29 but a typical Mexican with miles on the clock.
He has lost three of his last five though, and has been stopped in his last two appearances, but they were in decent company.
I think he will hear the final bell against Gill, but ‘The Thrill’ should be able to take a comfortable enough points win.
Florian Marku (7-0-1, KO5) found his reputation seriously dented when held to a draw by Jamie Stewart in December.
The Albanian attempts to show the setback was a mere blip, and meets Rylan Charlton (6-0-1, KO3) the ‘Pint Sized Powerhouse’ that stunningly flattened another prospect in Joe Laws, in three rounds back in October 2020.
This one is set for ten at Welterweight, and should be fun while it lasts. Marku will be hell bent on making a statement, and I think he can stop Charlton by the halfway mark here.
There’s a debut at Heavyweight for Johnny Fisher, and the ‘Romford Bull’ has a good chance to showcase himself, in against Matt Gordon (2-5-1, KO0) over four. Gordon has been stopped four times and Fisher can make it five inside a couple of rounds.