Meet David Avanesyan, the man aiming to knock out Terence Crawford

David Avanesyan’s manager Neil Marsh is helping him emerge from boxing’s shadows and make his mark by earning a surprise KO win over Terence Crawford on Saturday.

Avanesyan (29-3-1, 17 KOs) will climb through the ropes to face WBO welterweight champion Crawford as a huge underdog in front of the American’s home fans at CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska.

Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), 35, from Omaha, is ESPN’s #1 pound-for-pound contender, and Avanesyan gets this opportunity only because a much-anticipated bout against Crawford’s welterweight rival, Errol Spence, did not come about.

But boxing’s loss is Avanesyan’s gain, and Marsh, who led Avanesyan out of obscurity to the world title, believes the unheralded Armenian-Russian may deliver the biggest shock in boxing in 2022.

“David can KO anyone, I rate Crawford as the best under the 147lbs but on his day if David catches him anything could happen,” Marsh told ESPN.

“We have no illusions. It’s a tough task, but we’re aiming for one thing, the KO, and I’m confident David will do whatever it takes to win this fight.”

Avanesyan – No. 9 in ESPN’s welterweight rankings – has trained in Newark near Nottingham with trainer Carl Greaves in England for the past seven years and is in fine form, having recovered from two setbacks at elite level. The 34-year-old father-of-two, who lives in Pyatigorsk in the Caucasus in southern Russia when he’s not preparing for fights in England, has had six straight wins since a point, including three in the first round, losing to Lamont Peterson and an injury loss to Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

“David has improved massively since those losses, I think the results showed that,” Marsh told ESPN.

“Not only that, his ringcraft is much better now under Carl Greaves. Don’t forget – especially the Peterson fight – they’ve only been together for less than two years so it took time to get everything out.”

Avanesyan, ranked No. 6 in the WBO, was shunned by rivals in the UK, according to Marsh, and had three fights in Spain in 2019.

“Bringing him to fights was awful at times,” Marsh told ESPN. “Forget what others say when they try to smear their name out of David because no one wanted a part of him. It was so frustrating but we kept going.

“The Kerman Lejarraga fight in Spain was a team competition that we all thought we could win. At the time, Kerman was shooting through the crowds, holding top-five finishes on every governing body. We watched the fight because we knew we could beat it, but the price was big and it got us right back to the top. We were called to a rematch and then had a routine match in Barcelona to set up for Josh Kelly which was another great win for David.

Avanesyan made his professional boxing debut in 2009 in Sochi, the Russian city on the Black Sea coast. He had an unremarkable career start – losing his second pro fight over six rounds on points – and fought exclusively in his home nation for the next five years before his career changed.

In 2014, Avanesyan popped up on a map in Liverpool, England, and not many took much notice of his ten-round points win over fellow Hungarian Laszlo Fazekas. Someone who was interested was Marsh, who signed Avanesyan in 2015 and has been working with him ever since.

“An agent offered him to me when I was doing a lot of promoting small arena shows,” Marsh told ESPN. “We did a camp with him and a fight with Dean Byrne [in June 2015] to see how he did before signing and he was outstanding to say the least. I was very cautious as it was a big investment in a foreign boxer who we thought was world class.”

Later in 2015, Avanesyan stopped Venezuela’s Charlie Navarro in nine rounds for the WBA interim title in Monaco later in 2015 to start a fight against “Sugar” Shane Mosley in May 2016. Mosley, then 44, was the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the early 2000s but was a faded version of his former brilliant self when he met Avanesyan.

A unanimous points win over Mosley in Arizona should give Avanesyan a shot at WBA champion Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter. But that didn’t happen and instead Avanesyan was elevated to full champion status and faced Peterson in a first defense. Peterson did just enough in a close fight, winning points of 116-112 (twice) and 115-113 in Cincinnati in February 2017.

Avanesyan, who faced England’s Kell Brook as the IBF Welterweight Champion, suffered another setback a year later when he was stopped in six rounds by US-based Lithuanian Kavaliauskas. Crawford would stop Kavaliauskas in nine rounds two years later. Since then, Avanesyan has impressively rebuilt his career and insists he will shock the boxing world on Saturday.

“I know I’m a big underdog and nobody gives me a chance, but let me tell you, I’m going to surprise all viewers,” Avanesyan said. “I’ve had enough time to prepare, so I’m ready for the southpaw. I have to stick to the game plan we have, and if adjustments need to be made mid-fight, I have to make them .

“The bad habits that plagued me early in my career are now gone. Today I’m a completely different fighter in the ring and my last six fights have shown that I’ve grown in terms of my punching power. I believe in mine aggressive style will cause problems for Crawford.” Meet David Avanesyan, the man aiming to knock out Terence Crawford

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