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Newark's Carl Greaves and David Avanesyan shock the Bilbao Arena to take European welterweight title after ninth round TKO against Kerman Lejarraga

By Connor Thompson

Boxing ace Carl Greaves says David Avanesyan’s European welterweight title win in Bilbao was the biggest of his career.

The Russian-born boxer, who fights out of Newark, faced his biggest test yet in unbeaten Spaniard Kerman Lejarraga, who was on the brink of stardom in the world of boxing having knocked out 22 of his 26 opponents.

Greaves’ fighter, who travelled to Bilbao, Spain as the heavy underdog, showed his worth and floored the Basque fighter in the fourth round with a right hook, before forcing the stoppage in the ninth.

BOXING duo David Avanesyan and Carl Greaves in the ring after the formers European title win against Spanish fighter Kerman Lejarraga.
BOXING duo David Avanesyan and Carl Greaves in the ring after the formers European title win against Spanish fighter Kerman Lejarraga.

“It’s a crazy sport. One minute you’re at the bottom of the mountain and the next minute you’re at the top,” said Greaves, who had watched Sam Bowen retain the British super-featherweight title and Avanesyan lift the European welterweight title in the space of seven days.

“Things weren’t going for me through November to January and fights had fallen through (referencing Josh Kelly’s withdrawal from the bout with Avanesyan after the weigh-in).

“I’m delighted with how things are going.”

On Saturday, more than 10,000 were present in the Bilbao Arena ­— most of whom were supporting their native fighter.

“During the walkout it was a very hostile atmosphere and we knew it would be,” said Greaves.

“We had to get him in a positive frame of mind before the fight and he did great because he didn’t crumble or show any signs of nerves.”

The fight excited from the off and Lejarraga started well, but Avanesyan was comfortable in the opening three rounds and after dropping the home fighter in the fourth, it was the start of the end.

“We stuck to the game plan,” said Greaves. “We knew he was heavy handed because he had knocked out three other English lads within four rounds.

“I told him (Avanesyan) to keep a strong defence, catch him on the counter and make sure he was punching from different angles.

“In the eighth round, Kerman came out fast and it was his final push for me. I told David he’s gone now, that was his big push for the knockout.”

The following round a right hand to the temple shook the Spaniard and Avanesyan piled on the punches to the skull to force the technical knockout.

French official Robin Dolpierre had no other option but to intervene.

“You could hear a pin drop in the arena (when the referee stepped in)” said Greaves.

“I clapped all four corners of the ring out of respect and the response was like a scene from Rocky.

“Everyone was out of their seats and they gave David a standing ovation.

“There was a lot of respect after the fight and Kerman even handed the belt over to David.”

A rematch clause in the contract is yet to be triggered and Greaves said he will honour the demand if Lejarraga requests it.


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