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
Re-live the Feb. 20 card in full via our live coverage below.