Benn ‘a hell of a problem’ for Kelly

“Technically Kelly would box anyone’s ears off for six rounds. But it’s the next six that count.”

Last Updated: 26/03/20 2:07pm

16:51 Extended Josh Kelly interview
Extended Josh Kelly interview

Conor Benn has “closed the gap” on his rival Josh Kelly, according to promoter Eddie Hearn, who insists the domestic welterweights would make a “big British fight”.

Kelly is expected to challenge European champion David Avanesyan in a rescheduled fight next but Benn warns he may come unstuck.

Benn said: “I speak with Avanesyan. Me and Kelly have had our back and forths. But you have to support the Brit.

Conor Benn and Josh Kelly are undefeated welterweight rivals

Conor Benn and Josh Kelly are undefeated welterweight rivals

Conor Benn and Josh Kelly are undefeated welterweight rivals

“It would be a massive fight if Kelly comes through. Am I struggling to see it? I am. Based on the last three performances of each fighter. They say you’re only as good as your last fight.”

Kelly twice went the distance in 2019 fights in the US, including a draw with Ray Robinson which is the only blemish on his 11-fight record. Avanesyan stopped three opponents last year and won his European title on away turf in Spain.

“I think Avanesyan could get to him late based on Kelly slowing down in the later rounds,” Benn said. “But maybe that’s a weight thing so if he does his weight properly he may have more energy in the later rounds.

“I’d fight either of them.”

1:20 David Avanesyan’s promoter claims Adam Booth and Josh Kelly bottled their last fight when their bout was canceled in 2018.
David Avanesyan’s promoter claims Adam Booth and Josh Kelly bottled their last fight when their bout was canceled in 2018.

Promoter Hearn said: “A fight with Kelly is a big, British fight. If [Kelly] beats Avanesyan and [Benn] wins a British title and move up in the world rankings, it is a big fight.

“[Benn] is closing the gap because people said [Kelly] was too experienced for him, with his amateur pedigree. Too good for [Benn]?

“But as Benn’s performances have improved, people are talking about this fight being more competitive.”

Kelly was part of Team GB for the 2016 Olympics but Benn’s amateur experience was restricted to a handful of fights on the Australian circuit, where he lived at the time.

Benn is unbeaten in 16

Benn is unbeaten in 16

Benn is unbeaten in 16

“Kelly had a head-start with his amateur career,” Benn said. “That’s something I wish I had, but wish I didn’t have at the same time.

“I believe it would do me favours later in my career. But you end up having injuries.

“It’s a blessing in disguise that I don’t have the amateurs. I’m putting in the hard graft now to make up for it.

“I may never be a polished, slick, defensive fighter. All I know is that whoever I fight will know they’ve been in a fight.

“Technically Kelly would box anyone’s ears off for six rounds. But it’s the next six that count.

“With the hard graft I put in, with being able to carry my punch power into the later rounds, and with being able to take a shot, I’d cause him a hell of a problem.”

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