Josh Kelly loses his first professional fight as Russian David Avanesyan defends his European welterweight title with a sixth-round win at Wembley Arena.
The fight, postponed three times from its original 2018 date, produced some frenetic action at Wembley Arena.
Kelly, 26, with 10 wins and a draw, shook his 32-year-old opponent with a left hook in round two.
But Avanesyan cut Kelly’s eye in the same round and constant pressure saw the towel thrown in during round six.
Both men were fighting for the first time since December 2019 and, after Kelly’s impressive start, the shorter Avanesyan began to exert control.
Kelly was given a standing count in the sixth and, as the combinations to the body and head from Avanesyan continued, the Sunderland boxer’s team spared their bloodied man from further punishment.
Avanesyan’s British trainer Carl Greaves told Sky Sports: “I knew exactly how it was going to go – I’ve spent over five years with David, he finds a way every time. I was so confident in this fight.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn tipped the Russian for a world title shot, saying: “Sometimes you come across a guy that will not be denied, that’s too strong, that has the will beyond others and tonight that was David Avanesyan.
“Josh Kelly was in the shape of his life but this man [Avanesyan] wouldn’t be denied. He was too tough and he deserves his success.
“We saw a world-class welterweight against a really good prospect who I believe could be a world-class fighter but he was out-hustled, out-fought and as good as the start was you could see him unravelling.
“Josh Kelly took the step up and should be applauded for that. He fought a world-class fighter but he’s an young man and can come again.”