Tony Jeffries slams Josh Kelly's promoter Eddie Hearn following David Avanesyan loss

Tony Jeffries has slammed Josh Kelly's promoter Eddie Hearn following his loss to David Avanesyan on Saturday night.

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 4:30 pm

Kelly was stopped in the sixth round of his clash with the Russian for the European welterweight title after trainer Adam Booth threw in the towel.

The 26-year old Rhyope-born puncher had been touted as one of British boxing’s most exciting prospects, with a fight at the Stadium of Light on the cards before Saturday's loss.

But Avanesyan, 32, has put a stop to that dream, at least for the time being.

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Sunderland's Tony Jeffries celebrates after winning a bronze medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Previously, Kelly went to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as an amateur but failed to medal.

Back in 2008, however, the city rejoiced as Sunderland’s Jeffries brought home the bronze from Beijing.

But – having watched his fellow Mackem in action against the more experienced Avanesyan – Jeffries expressed frustration at Hearn’s promotional company Matchroom for their handling of Kelly.

“I’m gutted for Josh Kelly. And do you know what? It’s a terrible decision by Matchroom,” explained Jeffries, who now lives in Los Angeles. “What they’ve done there is pretty disgusting I think.

Josh Kelly during his European welterweight title fight with David Avanesyan.

“His 12th pro fight he should never have been in there with a guy like that [Avanesyan].

“Now, if you look at other fighters, other world champions who have loads of success like Ricky Hatton, Carl Foch, Floyd Mayweather.

"Look at who they have fought in their 12th professional fight and this was even after they have been consistently active having three or four fights a year.

"Now, Josh has not fought since the end of 2019 and they throw him in with that European champion.

Olympic bronze medallist Tony Jeffries pictured after signing his professional boxing contract during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers at the Stadium of Light in 2008.

“It’s terrible! He’s 26-year-old.”

Kelly started the fight well and shook his opponent with a sharp left hook in round two, but Avanesyan started to ramp up the pressure.

But Avanesyan, who once defeated the three-weight world champion Shane Mosely, would not stop relentlessly walking Kelly down.

Eventually, the pressure and experience told in the sixth round as Kelly was floored twice before his corner threw in the towel.

David Avanesyan floors Josh Kelly at Wembley Arena.

Jeffries, though, believes that the pair shouldn’t have been matched together so early on in Kelly’s career.

“They should have been building up Josh Kelly and hand-picking his fights to get more experience in there,” Jeffries explained.

“Especially after having been so inactive with what has happened in 2020.

“Josh Kelly could have been one of the biggest names in the world of boxing, definitely one of the biggest names in British boxing.

“He is so talented! But they have rushed him, and that’s what happens in pro boxing.

“I think with Matchroom, they have that many top fighters so they’ll throw them in with this top guy and if he wins it’s great, but if he doesn’t, I’ve got loads more fighters.

“It’s kind of like sink or swim, there’s no individual attention there for him, it was terrible what they have just done to that 26-year-old lad.

“He’s the better fighter in there, he just needs more rounds and more fights.

“I know Josh was confident, all fighters will fight anyone, but that’s not looking after him.

“Look how Floyd Mayweather got looked after. Josh could have been - he still can be - one of the biggest superstars in world boxing.

“But they have spoiled it!”