Josh Kelly responds to 'bottle job' accusations after pulling out of David Avanesyan fight with virus

Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly.
Sunderland boxer Josh Kelly.
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Josh Kelly says his 'pride is damaged' after pulling out of a fight with former world champion David Avanesyan just hours before he was due in the ring.

Kelly withdrew from last night's bout in Sheffield against the Russian after suffering a virus overnight.

The Sunderland welterweight was set for his hardest fight to date, and was accused by Avanesyan's manager of a 'bottle job' in an angry outburst.

But Kelly insists he had no other option when he took to Instagram to explain the decision, and said he would fight the Russian in the new year instead.

Kelly wrote: "It’s been hard to say the least not fighting because of illness doesn’t only affect me but affects others around me as well and for that I’m sorry.

"After weighing in I didn’t feel tip top health-wise and though I would get better but it has got progressively worse. The bugs going around this time of year are rife and I've happened to come down with something this close to a fight and that's killed me inside.

"A feeling that my pride is damaged and that is the worst part of all.

"The sacrifice of having my baby and going straight back into training after was hard enough missing out on so much time with him. So to sacrifice all of that and then this to happen has hurt me deeply.

"All I can say is sorry to everyone who bought tickets and sorry to David and his team. One thing is for sure, David will be my first fight in the new year.

"I guess this was written and what was meant to be. Love for all the messages and support I've received. I'm going to switch off now for a while and spend some time with my boy and my family because it's been a busy year."

Promotor Eddie Hearn, who had Kelly slated as one of the main supports on the undercard of Kell Brook's clash with Michael Zerafa last night, is also keen for the Sunderland man to face Avanesyan at the start of 2019.

Whether the Russian decides to fight Kelly is a different matter, however. The Russian's manager Neil Marsh claimed Kelly's camp and trainer Adam Booth tried to change the fight from 12 rounds to 10 rounds before eventually pulling out.

Marsh tweeted: "I've never in my life spoke badly of any fighter but trust me @JOSHPBK and @boxingbooth are complete bottle jobs. Their behaviour has been disgusting."