Josh Kelly suffered the first professional loss of his career on Saturday.
David Avanesyan weathered a promising start from Josh Kelly before knocking him down twice in the sixth round to force a stoppage at the 2:15 mark to retain his European welterweight title in the main event of Matchroom Boxing's card at the SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday.
The two were due to face in December 2018, then March 2020 and last month before finally getting the green light at the fourth time of asking. Kelly did a great job of using his speed and reach to fluster the champion early on by making the Russian miss frequently coming forward. Kelly's mobility drastically decreased a lot easier than anyone imagined.
In rounds five and six, Avanesyan's trademark pressure fighting was finding Kelly's face and body with every advance, and the shots added up. The champion landed a damaging combo in the sixth, which led to a count from the referee. Moments later, he had Kelly in hot water again, and trainer Adam Booth threw in the towel.
It is the first defeat of Kelly's career. Considering how spectacularly he faded, the prevailing opinion will be that he stepped into a challenging fight far too soon after a lengthy absence from the ring.
Here are the results in full from a card packed with engrossing action, plus an explosive debut for a British heavyweight prospect.
David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly fight results
David Avanesyan beats Josh Kelly via Round 6 stoppage
Florian Marku beats Rylan Charlton via Round 8 stoppage
Gabriel Valenzuela beats Robbie Davies Jr. via majority decision
Johnny Fisher beats Matt Gordon via Round 1 TKO
Jordan Gill beats Cesar Juarez via unanimous decision
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David Avanesyan beats Josh Kelly via TKO in Round 6
It's over! As with the last round, Avanesyan found it much easier to connect with Kelly who had pretty much stopped evading and countering. The European champion scores two quick knockdowns, prompting Kelly's corner to throw in the towel.
Replays show the cut eye of Kelly came from an accidental clash of heads. Another improved round from Avanesyan, landing more than he did in the fourth. The two engage in quality exchanges in the round's dying embers, but the challenger gave the champion far too easy a target in this one. 48-47 Kelly.
Kelly continues to do well making Avanesyan miss, but he also takes a lot more shots than he intended to, including a pretty one-sided final 60 seconds. Two rounds to one in Kelly's favour after three.
Lively second round! It opens up big-time, and Kelly has Avanesyan in some bother with some surprising power, but the champ cuts him on the head close to the left ear. Good stuff but Kelly off to a strong start. 20-18.
Fast, confident start from Kelly. Willing to get close to danger in the middle of the ring, but coming off with the better of the contact. On the ropes, he's forcing misses from the Russian. 10-9 to the challenger.
Charlton's eye has been steadily closing, and Marku has recovered from the knockdown that damaged his ego more than anything. As the lands get heavier and more frequent on Rylan, his corner throw in the towel in Round 8. Charlton remained on his feet, but it was a smart stoppage. The fight was only going to go one way from there.
Charlton was in trouble late in the fourth and saved by the bell from a potential knockdown or standing count. But the Brit has remained toe-to-toe throughout and catches Marku flush on the retreat with a left hook for a knockdown. That turns a 50-45 fight into a gap of just three with four left, and suddenly it's all to play for.
...and Marku is starting to take control against Charlton. His attempts to laugh off and trash talk Charlton's clean shots are fooling nobody - lands are lands. Nonetheless, he's finding the better shots and is widening the gap of control between the duo with each round that transpires. 30-27 Marku on the DAZN card.
That was a torrid fight for Davies. He looked good in patches, but awkward constant shifting from orthodox to southpaw and back and forth gave Valenzuela plenty of opportunities at mid-range to control big chunks of the fight. It was awkward, and it was fairly close, but it's going to be edged in Valenzuela's favour for me. On my card, he won it by a round after scoring a knockdown and having a point deducted.
As expected, the debutant plows through his handpicked debut opponent. It's rough-around-the-edges, but there's good power in his combos, and he scores two knockdowns with the referee calling it during his 10-count on the latter.
Ian John-Lewis 98-92, Victor Loughlin 98-93, Mark Lyson 96-94 all in the favour of Jordan Gill, who wins the WBA International featherweight title for the second time with a good showing against a very busy opponent.