The David Avanesyan Project
By Ian Aldous
“Don’t let him breathe”, a voice bellowed from the corner in the fourth round, as the tide of the fight was drastically turning. That voice was Carl Greaves, trainer of Europe’s reigning welterweight champion, David Avanesyan (27-3-1).
Listening intently to the instructions and relentlessly pursuing former Olympian, Josh Kelly, less than two rounds later, the power, pressure and perseverance paid dividends. The fight was over.
“I’ll be honest with you, I did think it was never going to happen”, Greaves opined when discussing the three-time postponed bout. Thankfully, after a last-minute Kelly pull-out and Covid postponements, the fight that was originally slated for 2018, actually took place in 2021 – fourth time lucky.
“When it did, we were fully prepared and I’d studied Kelly probably more than any fighter I’ve ever watched in my life, opponent wise”, Greaves said.
“I just thought to myself that David had his number, which I was proved right.”
Having already found it difficult to match the 33 year-old, the impressive sixth-round stoppage of Kelly only increased the challenges of asking willing opponents to sign a contract to battle the Russian.
Greaves doesn’t believe any of the current 147-pound titleholders will offer Avanesyan a voluntary world title fight; becoming mandatory challenger is of paramount importance. Firmly established at European level with three title defences – all via stoppage, you’d be forgiven for thinking he’d done enough to warrant a world title shot, but not so.
Instead, word spread amongst the boxing community about the European king perhaps sharing a ring with the rapidly-ascending Conor Benn. Alas, the mooted bout has been talked about much more on social media than it has in Matchroom HQ.
Greaves declared Conor Benn to be a backward step in the aftermath of the Kelly victory, not disrespectfully, as he expected his man to march towards a world title shot that hasn’t yet materialised.
“I personally think Conor’s nowhere near ready for David”, he explained. “I think it would be an easy night for David. If he came to fight; he’d get knocked out, and he isn’t really a boxer on the back foot. I don’t know how he’d approach it.”
Benn seems likely to bypass Avanesyan and pave his own route to a world title with the backing of Matchroom; the fight appears to be dead in the water.
“With word getting around that Conor don’t really want to fight him, the public’s trying to force that fight – it will never happen. If they’re in different promotional companies now, then they’re even further apart.”
“It’s a shame”, Greaves added. “It would have made a good European title fight or world title eliminator contest.”
Avanesyan’s team, including manager Neil Marsh, refused to vacate the European strap, even after having been asked to, and will proudly defend it again on October 2nd at Wembley Arena, live on Sky Sports.
Standing in Ava’s way is Lancashire’s Liam Taylor, a more than capable welterweight with a 23-1-1 record who was mightily unlucky not to win the British and Commonwealth titles against Chris Jenkins in 2019, when an accidental head clash stopped their fight.
“With David struggling for opposition, he (Liam) grabbed the opportunity”, Greaves explained. “He’s No.3 in Europe. No.1 was Jordy Weiss who pulled out injured; Conor Benn is No.2 and didn’t want it; Taylor was No.3 and accepted.”
The fight will serve as the co-main event to Chris Eubank Jr.’s ring return, live on Sky Sports. It’s the latest chapter on a journey between Greaves and Avanesyan that began in August 2015.
Wins over Charlie Navarro and the legendary Shane Mosley saw the partnership blossom with stunning momentum. A close decision defeat to Lamont Peterson followed and a subsequent TKO reverse against Egidijus Kavaliauskas appeared to signal a downturn in form, albeit to two very highly-rated world-class operators.
Neil Marsh remained positive and Avanesyan ventured to Spain in early 2019 to challenge the unbeaten banger Kerman Lejarraga, for his European welterweight title. The Russian walked into the lion’s den and TKO’d the champion inside nine rounds. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, he returned to Spain and beat Lejarraga again, even more emphatically – just over 120 seconds.
The overmatched Jose Del Rio was despatched in even quicker fashion as Avanesyan capped off a stellar trio of wins in 2019. The win over Kelly should have catapulted him to a world title shot, instead, a fourth defence of the EBU belt awaits at Wembley Arena. Don’t be surprised to see Taylor become his fifth consecutive knockout victim.
Boxxer: Eubank Jr. vs. Muratov takes place Saturday October 2nd at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley, and airs exclusively on Sky Sports.
One of boxing’s most avoided talents, David Avanesyan, defends his European welterweight title against Liam Taylor in chief support.
Tickets are available via Boxxer.com/tickets and AXS.com and are priced from £40.