Where Next for Josh Kelly?



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Where Next for Josh Kelly?

David Avanesyan stopped long-time adversary Josh Kelly in the sixth round to win the bout and retain the European Welterweight Title. Whilst the champion showed experienced during the fight, questions remain as on if Kelly can turn his undeniable talent into championship success.

Heading into this fight, both fighters are at different stages of their careers and whilst Avanesyan having previously won the WBA interim Welterweight Title and had three loses to his name, the boxer from Sunderland was unbeaten in his first ten fights as a professional following his performances at the 2016 Rio Olympics. There was a lot of needle and heat heading into the matchup, as the fight had to be postponed on three different occasions and even scuffles were reported to have broken out between the teams before the bout.

Nevertheless, the fight promised so much for Kelly as he was dominant in the earlier rounds of the fight, showcasing his reflexes and movement as well as hitting Avanesyan with some good shots. His opponent however, showcased his experience of being in title fights to stop a tired and bloodied Kelly in the seventh round. Pure delight was apparent in the winning corner but also despair for the home fighter, with not only the first opportunity to win the European Title gone, but also his unbeaten record.


What does this mean for Kelly in the future?

A defeat shouldn’t be the end for Josh’s hopes at another title or define, to what has been a good start, his professional career. What it does mean for the Sunderland-born fighter is that he has a great set of options, even after his crushing defeat, to put his career back on track.

One of the obvious options he has in store is that he could go straight into a rematch with David Avanesyan for the title and prove a point to the boxing community that he can take lessons from his defeat to do better. Another option he has is to take on Conor Benn in an all-British Welterweight showdown in a fight that could be career defining, it can understandably also be seen as a risk too soon. Kelly also has the option of taking a fight against a lesser opponent to build up match fitness and confidence. The final option mentioned by Benn on the Sky Sports punditry is for Kelly to even move up in weight possibly to the 154 division to look for potential fights there, which could even help the fighter deal with being durable as he moves through the rounds.

Whatever decision is made, a fighter of this quality and technique is at a pivotal point in his career and this defeat could make him either a better fighter or could turn out to be a case of what if.


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