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EXCLUSIVE: Josh Kelly urged to accept David Avanesyan mandatory shot

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Having travelled to the Basque country for a second time to face former European champion Kerman Lejarraga, Russian welterweight David Avanesyan won in even quicker fashion this time around.

The 31-year-old current EBU champion and former WBA regular champion Avenesyan stopped Lejarraga in front of his passionate home fans in the first round in Bilbao.

A quicker finish than what Avenesyan and his team were expecting.

“We were very confident we would stop Kerman, being honest we thought between seven and twelve. That’s when we expected to stop him.” Neil Marsh, Avenesyan manager and promoter exclusively told World Boxing News.

“We did want to catch Kerman early with a good shot to see what his mentality was. Am I surprised it went early? No. Ultimately my opinion was it was going to late on, if I had put my money on it.”

Since the win, the EBU have named Josh Kelly as mandatory. A fight that was made in the past only for Kelly to pull out a couple of hours before the fight due to illness.

“A couple of months later (after the proposed Kelly fight). Adam Booth accepted the mandatory position live on Sky TV,” explained Marsh. “Knowing we were in a rematch clause with Kerman and that we couldn’t accept the fight.

“They made a mistake and took a fight in America (Ray Robinson) which allowed me to go to the EBU to get us a voluntary defence for David. We did the voluntary defence and now we have beat Kerman.

“We were in Bilbao with the supervisor and spoke with EBU, we wanted this ordered with immediate effect.

“But the facts are the facts we are going to see if Josh Kelly is going to accept this fight or if he won’t. There is no hiding place from it.

“I put a tweet out saying it’s checkmate. Nowhere to go, you either fight him or you don’t. I personally don’t think they will take it.”

It seems Avenesyan wants the fight.

“I hope they take it, as David is very angry about the situation. He wants to put it right. There’s no disrespect aimed at Adam (Booth) or Josh but the facts are the facts,” Marsh added.

With Spence Jr beating Shawn Porter in a unification, there’s not a lot of options for Avenesyan at world level right now.

“We have a funny situation. We have Manny Pacquiao, Danny Garcia due to fight and Errol Spence who has got a couple of belts,” he explained. “Terence Crawford has a mandatory against Kavaliauskas. So sometimes you need a bit of patience in boxing.

“There’s not a lot I can do about that at the moment, so the Josh Kelly fight stacks up for us.”


Marsh claims Avenesyan would fight Kelly in his home of the North East of England, Kelly’s home area, if required.

“There are videos knocking about showing how hostile Bilbao was,” said Marsh. “They were trying to make it like Istanbul for the football, with ‘Welcome to Hell’ and flares inside and outside the arena. All the fans had masks on and different things.

“David’s not scared of fighting anywhere. He’s fought in the U.S three times, fought in Monte Carlo. Now just gone to Spain twice.

“A ring is a ring. We would be more than happy to go to Sunderland to give the Mackems a night to remember.”

Marsh felt he and Avenesyan were treated great by Lejarraga’s promoters.

“I and Team Avenesyan would like to thank MGZ Promotions (Lejarraga’s promoters). They are real genuine, outstanding people in a tough sport.

“I’d like to thank them for their hospitality.”

Mick Kane is a Staff Writer to World Boxing News. Follow Mick on Twitter @MickKaneMMA