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Josh Kelly is ready for the hardest fight of his life against David Avanesyan

Avanesyan (left) and Kelly. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports
18
Feb

The talking will finally stop this weekend when the on-off clash between Josh Kelly and David Avanesyan takes place at the Wembley Arena in London.

You could write a thesis on the false starts this fight has had, due to illness, injury and a global pandemic, but it’s now here.

There’s talk about it being personal, with Avanesyan’s side feeling like they’ve been jerked around, particularly after Kelly’s withdrawal on the day of their first scheduled meeting when he was feeling unwell.

Kelly is now chomping at the bit, motivated by silencing the doubters while insisting it has not become personal on his side.

“I’ve seen chinks in his armour I can exploit and I can’t wait to get in there on Saturday night,” he says. “It’s not personal at all, it’s business. They might take it personal and if they do then they’re going to fall into a trap because emotions in a boxing ring shouldn’t be there. You’ve got to leave them outside the ring.”

In the months that have gone by since their initial proposed meeting, Kelly contends that he has benefited having spent more time in camp with coach Adam Booth, living in a small apartment near the gym away from his home and young family so he can focus on Avanesyan.

“Of course it’s hard,” he said, of spending months away at a time. “I think sometimes people leaving their kids and going to work for a day is hard, but this fight has totally taken the focus off everything else. There’s been a laser focus for this fight when I’ve been in the gym. I’ve just switched off everything and it’s been the perfect camp.”

He has been able to improve behind closed doors, even though he says he was hoping to fight once the crowds had returned.

Kelly battles Ray Robinson. Photo courtesy of Sky Sports

Critics argue the 10-0-1 Kelly ‘found his level’ with a draw against Ray Robinson two fights ago. Kelly says that fight helped him develop, as did his last outing, getting 10 rounds in against Wiston Campos in December 2019.

“There’s huge improvements made from both fights,” Kelly adds. “Robinson went under the radar, he’s got a majority draw against [Egidijus] Kavaliauskas who stopped David, so Robinson is a tricky, awkward, really experienced southpaw with a lot of range. He’s in camp with Jaron Ennis all the time, so those guys there are top class. I’ve taken plenty of positives from that. That was two years ago now. My maturity has gone up another level, I’ve learned a lot and I gained a lot of experience from that fight.”

The pro-Avanesyan talk is that he will bring too much pressure for Kelly. Kelly is ready for it.

“I think David will walk into some shots and feel ‘I can’t keep pressing him like this.’ If he does, it’s better for me because I’ve trained for the highest pressure fight of my career. I’m ready for the pressure, so I have everything in my armour to beat David on Saturday and look spectacular doing it.”

Kelly looks physically lean and in great shape. He says everything has improved in the last two years, resulting in his defined condition.

“Mindset, maturity, nutrition…” he explains, when asked of the differences. “I’ve stepped up another level and found another gear with everything. Has the time elapsed between the first fight and it happening now done me good? Yes, of course it has. Has it done him good? I’m not sure. For me, I’m expecting the hardest fight of my life.”

There has been talk of a Kell Brook fight, but Conor Benn could come next.

“One fight at a time,” cautions Kelly. “I feel 100 percent I will beat Avanesyan. The next fight after that will be Conor Benn and then after that it will be a big one at the end of the year, but I will win this fight. That’s my belief anyway.”

 

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