Sunderland boy, Pretty Boy Kelly, could be in for a rude awakening on Saturday night if he believes he can out-manoeuvre David Avanesyan in a similar manner to his previous foes.
Matchroom: Avanesyan vs Kelly Predictions & Results
For this Saturday only, it is time to put the Hearn criticism on ice for a minute. What a fantastic card from top to bottom that the crafty Dagenham boy has produced. Pretty Boy Kelly faces a 50/50 test against an experienced Russian operator who has been riding a career purple patch for the past two years. Robbie Davies Jnr. continues on his path towards a world title ranking/shot. The feather duster, Jordan Gill, is pitted against a power puncher who will hopefully answer whether Gill has conditioned himself since his shock stoppage loss to Mario Enrique Tinoco.
Lower down on the card, a Welterweight grudge match has the potential to steal the headlines away from the main event. Undefeated prospects, Florian Marku and Rylan Charlton put their 0’s up on the table for a winner takes all. Both men possess the ability to dominate and stop a fight early, and with neither man holding back on expressing their opinion on each other, it should be a barnburner from the opening bell.
A small side paragraph for Heavyweight debutant, Johnny Fisher. As an Exeter alumni, it is always good to see someone who used to ‘Bleed Green’ take his steps into the professional ranks. Although taking up the sport later than most, technical supremacy does not hold the same value at the heaviest weight class – at least, not until you are forced to meet the top-ten. Fisher is a fighter I URGE you to keep an eye on – the Heavyweight division may have a new dark horse.
EBU European Welterweight Title
David Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14KO) vs Josh Kelly (10-0-1, 6KO)
Eddie Hearn must believe that David Avanesyan’s stock is rated far higher than his actual ability if he is willing to throw in prospect, Josh Kelly, after almost a year and a half layoff. Avanesyan has always been viewed as a solid European contender throughout his career, yet was unable to capitalise on his career-defining fights against Lamont Peterson and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. That was, until, the Russian was pitted against the fearsome 27-0 prospect, Kerman Lejarraga. The undefeated Spaniard was viewed as a wrecking ball at Welterweight having crushed regional cans before nuking British stalwarts, Frankie Gavin and Bradley Skeete, in less than six combined rounds. Avanesyan laughed in the face of oddsmakers as a +350 underdog and tore apart Lejarraga over nine rounds before eventually finding the finish to capture the EBU European Welterweight title. Six months later, in a rematch expected to go to the wire, Avanesyan shocked boxing fans once again when he stopped Lejarraga in two minutes and twenty-two seconds.
The recent upsurge in hype behind the Russian is in part due to his meatier looking strikes. Having always exhibited well-drilled technicals in the ring, Avanesyan has began to sit down into his shots and has found serious success. In his last fight against Jose Del Rio, Avanesyan kept his feet cemented to the ground for the entire fight. Completely disrespecting his opponent’s power, he calmly walked down (yet another) veteran Spaniard and brutalised him with sharp liver shots. How then, does Josh Kelly deal with the Russian wrecking ball? Well… by not standing with his back against the ropes, I would hesitate to guess.
Josh Kelly has been a frustrating boxer to follow even back in his amateur days. Entering the Olympics with a lot of hype behind the handsome Geordie lad, Kelly was to be knocked out of the last 16 by eventual winner, Daniyar Yeleussinov. After transitioning to the professional ranks, Kelly has struggled to find respect for his power after he rose above feasting on journeymen. Red flags have been apparent throughout Kelly’s career. Too focused on baiting opponents with his exceptional speed, Kelly often forgets to move his feet and as such, finds himself exposed at a dangerous range. So far, Kelly hasn’t met a fearsome puncher that can use one shot to exploit his flashy technique, but he is hit too often for it not to eventually happen. Against Winston Campos and Ray Robinson, Kelly was caught regularly by stiff jabs as he lingered in the pocket. Worse still, Kelly often forgoes a consistent offensive output in favour of securing highlight-reel slips and feints. There is no doubting the athletic ability of Kelly, but his decision making in the ring at times leaves much to be desired. Avanesyan is either a coming of age fight or an exposing that will forever change his career.
Predicted Result: Kelly Decision
It is often said and more often, used incorrectly, but Kelly strikes me as a fighter who fights to the level of his opposition. Against Ray Robinson and Winston Campos, Kelly was tagged often by straight shots, but its cause was mostly due to Kelly lingering in dangerous ranges for too long. The technicals can be ironed out, especially as he gains more experience against classier operators, but his athletic ability is supreme at Welterweight. Avanesyan has somehow evolved into a terrifying power puncher, but his best work comes off of the front foot. On paper, if Avanesyan constantly pushes back the Brit, he is playing into the hands of the slick counter puncher. In reality, Kelly has struggled to find ‘his’ style in the professionals, and flip flops between point-scoring and seeking to hurt. Hopefully, the long layoff has given the time necessary for Kelly to figure out the macros.
Result: Avanesyan def. Kelly // TKO Round 6 2:15
Super Lightweight (140)
vacant IBF Inter-Continental Super Lightweight Title
Robbie Davies Jnr (20-2, 13KO) vs Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela (22-2-1, 13KO)
It has been a fair while since we have seen Robbie Davies Jnr. back in the ring (not counting his warm-up against Damian Leonard Yapur and his 16-16-3 record). Since the Lewis Ritson war that Davis Jnr was dragged into back in October 2019, Davies Jnr. has been flying under the radar. Such a long layoff, however, may have improved Davies’ chances at a successful journey to the top. While ring rust is a factor that affects all boxers with a long time out (i.e. COVID), Davies Jnr. has now had almost two years with new trainer Dominic Ingle and been able to iron out a trusting relationship.
Regardless of the change in trainer, Davies Jnr. will no doubt fight with a similar gameplan of unleashing his powerful liver shots. Out of his southpaw stance, Davies Jnr can put more juice into targeting the sweet spot by virtue of physics and angles. Although Davies isn’t a renowned knockout artist, he is a fighter who continues to plug away on opponents and force them to submit in the later rounds. Davies’ potent offence has never been an issue, it has instead been his inability to trade safely at mid-range. In the pocket, Davies’ head movement is elusive and constantly masked at the side of his opponent. At the mid-range, Davies Jnr keeps his head on the centre line, and as a result, is tagged with straight shots. Joe Hughes, a man at a significant height and reach disadvantage, was able to out-trade Davies from the outside with the jab. Managing range is the bread and butter of the Ingle camp, however, and expect Davies Jnr. to have made considerable improvements.
Gollaz Valenzuela is officially the first Mexican fighter in Britain since last weekend’s shock, that is claiming to be the next ‘Mauricio Lara’ and his foe the ‘Josh Warrington’. Prepare yourself for decades of this ridiculous comparison every time a Central American underdog fights out in Britain. Representing his first time fighting out the country, Valenzuela’s lack of away days is a major red flag early doors. Still, Valenzuela’s knockout ratio must be respected regardless of the level of Mexican journeymen he has largely faced throughout his career. Against Luis Ulloa (10-13-2), Valenzuela showed a sharp left hook that reached around the guard of his opponent. Worse still for Davies Jnr., Valenzuela constantly re-positioned himself to ensure he dominated the centre of the ring and maintain a long-range. Valenzuela is certainly there to be hit, but a dog fight would favour the Mexican who can show his power early in contests.
Predicted Result: Davies Jnr. TKO Round 9
While Gollaz Valenzuela isn’t a renowned name, he is a hurdle that will allow Davies Jnr. the opportunity to break into the IBF top-15 rankings. Moreover, reviewing the tape of Valenzuela online, the Mexican is a slow but powerful operator. Worse still for Davies Jnr., Valenzuela’s best work comes from the outside with a jumping straight shot and a sharp left hook off of the jab. Davies Jnr., will have to keep his feet moving if he wants to force Valenzuela to lunge in and open himself up to hurtful counters. This has the potential to be a barn-burner.
Result: Davies Jr. def. Valenzuela // Decision (majority – 94-94, 96-95, 96-95)
Rest of the Card
vacant WBA International Featherweight Title
Jordan Gill (25-1, 7KO) vs Cesar Juarez (25-9, 19KO)
Despite the record, Gill has not inspired me once throughout his twenty-six fight career. The major issue is that Gill simply does not entertain when he enters the ring. Passive on the back-foot, Gill absorbs little damage but also fails to take appropriate risks. While his probing jab and fleet footwork are clearly enough to overcome his domestic foes, he fails to put his foot down and go through the gears. As a result, you can tell three rounds into a Gill fight whether he is going to bore his way to a decision or if an opponent has the means to drag him out of his flow. It is a shame as Gill has wonderfully, evasive movement and a keen eye for counter shots when he fancies it. Moreover, his style is understandable as he remains getting paid whilst limiting the damage he receives to the noggin. If we’re going to be honest though, we watch professional boxing for the ‘seek to destroy’ style that is common, rather than Gill’s amateur point-scoring technique.
Cesar Juarez is an experienced veteran who is no stranger to fighting on the road. Juarez is a very tough man and will bring the action despite his lack of skills. Although never stopping his forward momentum, Juarez sets up shop behind his high guard once he has taken a nasty shot. It is a clear tell when Juarez is hurt, and as a result, it opens the door for opponents to pour everything into stopping their opponent. Durable to last a few rounds against heavy hitters, Gill may actually struggle to source enough power to frighten Juarez. More likely, however, is that Gill can piece apart Juarez from the outside with no real danger of counters.
Predicted Result: Gill Decision
Juarez is a tough cookie that will plod forward behind a high guard, but he is rather limited to barrages of hooks on the inside. His jab/straight is almost non-existent, and as a result, Gill will feel at home on the outside with his sniping shots. There is little reason to believe that Gill would risk taking a nasty body shot (e.g. Mario Enrique Tinoco) in an attempt to end his opponent, as he hasn’t exactly shown himself to be a risk-taker throughout his career.
Result: Gill def. Juarez // Decision (unanimous – 96-94, 98-93, 98-92)
Florian Marku (7-0-1, 5KO) vs Rylan Charlton (6-0-1, 3KO)
Only eight fights into his professional career and Florian Marku has garnered enough attention to that of some world titleholders. The outspoken Albanian has a knack for talking his way into the headlines, a commendable achievement as an exciting fighter who brings a spotlight to fights that would otherwise go under the radar. The transitioned MMA fighter could count himself unfortunate not to be awarded the win in his last fight against Jamie Stewart. While Stewart proved more capable off of the back foot than many had initially believed, Marku controlled the pace of the fight and landed far more significant shots. Marku’s body is a static target that no-one has attempted to target yet – but if I was Charlton, I would be focusing on the wide-open midriff. Marku’s success in planting his feet and landing power shots has come as much from his natural athleticism as well as his slick head movement. When cemented on the front foot, however, Marku’s abnormally wide body is a massive target.
Rylan Charlton somewhat appeared out of the blue into the Welterweight scene back in October 2020. Having carved out a 5-0-1 record behind closed doors, Charlton was pitted against hot prospect Joe Laws (9-0) in a fight many thought the Geordie would cruise. What transpired, however, was a Charlton clinic. Tucked behind his high guard, Charlton cut off the ring expertly and refused to allow Laws to exit the corner posts. Having won the war on the feet, Charlton was free to fire off hooks on his static target. Furthermore, Charlton looked to have power in every shot he threw. The first body shot he landed on Laws, in the first round, drew a gruesome reaction from his opponent as he winced in pain. Charlton does have the tendency to drop his left hand, however, especially in the pocket when he is thinking of loading up a left hook. Marku only needs one shot to force respect out of Charlton.
Predicted Result: Charlton TKO Round 8
Marku tends to fight in bursts while Charlton applies constant pressure and aims to club an opponent into submission. This is a very tasty affair, with the two fighters equal in many categories. Both men carry exceptionally heavy hands for the weight, have clear defensive flaws (Marku’s exposed midriff, Charlton’s lack of head movement) and have a lot on the line. This isn’t a career-ending fight, but it is an early career booster for the victor. No doubt, in a few years, both men will run it back anyway. Favouring Charlton to box sensibly based on the full camp he will receive before this fight (unlike the 13 days notice before the Laws fight). If this fight descends into a phonebooth battle, Marku’s speed advantage will trump Charlton.
Result: Marku def. Charlton // TKO Round 8 2:18
Johnny Fisher (DEBUT) vs Matt Gordon (2-5-1)
‘Romford Bull’ Johnny Fisher is a twenty-one-year-old heavy-hitting prospect who is searching for a knockout to kickstart his professional career. Standing an imposing 6’5″, Fisher has spent time training alongside Joe Joyce, as well as David Allen. With nine first-round knockouts (in ten wins) at the amateurs, Fisher is a scary prospect on the domestic scene already.
Matt Gordon is on a five-fight slide, four of which defeats which never saw the third round. Plugging your worth as a Heavyweight journeyman is one of the least desirable jobs, yet Gordon gives prospects a decent bit of experience. Gordon is loose, sloppy and unathletic, but Gordon has a lot of heart and will throw the kitchen sink in an attempt to keep an opponent off of him.
Predicted Result: Fisher TKO Round 2
Fisher may experience a few debut jitters, especially with his youthful twenty-one-year-old age and lack of amateur experience, yet he is far too powerful for Matt Gordon. Fisher has a lot of time to refine his craft over the years, but Matt Gordon as of now should pose little trouble – he is too slow to instil fear.
Result: Fisher def. Gordon // TKO Round 1 2:29
Matchroom: Avanesyan vs Kelly
2021 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: Eddie’s had himself a nightmare year already, drafting in hungry Mexican unknowns.
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