Josh Kelly was left blood-stained and beaten after suffering a sixth-round stoppage loss to David Avanesyan in their European welterweight title fight.
The Sunderland fighter suffered his first professional defeat at the hands of Avanesyan, the relentless Russian champion, who forced Kelly’s trainer Adam Booth to throw in the towel after two knockdowns at The SSE Arena in Wembley.
Avanesyan had been made to wait for Kelly, with the fight twice postponed, but his sustained assault broke down the 26-year-old’s resistance, with British rival Conor Benn watching from ringside as part of the Sky Sports team.
Kelly had showcased his blurring speed in the opening round as he stalked and then uncorked crisp combinations on Avanesyan.
A lightning left hand rocked Avanesyan back onto his heels in the second, but Kelly sustained a cut around the back of his scalp which bled steadily.
Despite this wound, Kelly darted into range to deliver sharp counters in the third, although Avanesyan was edging closer and dug in spiteful body shots during the fourth.
Right hands from Avanesyan troubled Kelly, while blood coated his face in the fifth, and he wilted to the canvas in the following round.
Two clubbing rights forced Kelly to the floor in the sixth and Avanesyan would not be denied, hammering in more shots to force Booth’s intervention.
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