Josh Kelly v David Avanesyan clash lined up by EBU - but will the fight happen?
Sunderland's rising welterweight star Josh Kelly could finally meet David Avanesyan in the ring after the EBU named the 24-year-old as mandatory challenger to the Russian's crown.
Avanesyan was due to meet Kelly on the undercard of Kell Brook v Michael Zerafa back in December but the Commonwealth champion was forced to pull out with an illness.
Some bad blood and public slurs from Avanesyan's team ensued with negotiations to reschedule the clash going cold.
The duo have both in different routes with Kelly taking on unbeaten Polish contender Przemyslaw Runowski at the O2 Arena, London, on Saturday (live on Sky Sports). Avanesyan, trained by Nottinghamshire based Carl Greaves, went over to Spain to convincingly rob Kerman Lejarraga, via a ninth round stoppage, of his European title in his own backyard.
And that victory by the 30-year-old appears to have reopened the opportunity for the duo to meet.
The EBU have revealed Kelly is mandatory and private negotiations for the fight have been given a deadline of May 31. If no agreement is forthcoming purse bids may be called.
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But there are two caveats to this fight getting made.
The first is that Avanesyan could yet defend his title in a rematch against Spaniard Lejarraga.
The second is that Kelly is slated to fight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua's US debut at Madison Square Garden on June 1, should Saturday night turn out to be, as expected, an easy night's work.
With this in mind, it is uncertain whether Kelly will want to fight for the European strap, with world level fights on the horizon in the not too distant future, according to trainer Adam Booth and promoter Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Boxing.