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Carl Greaves confident David Avanesyan can upset the odds again as Kerman Lejarraga looks to reclaim European welterweight title in Bilbao

Carl Greaves says David Avanesyan is in the shape of his life ahead of Saturday night’s European welterweight title defence.

Avanesyan, Newark’s Russian-born boxing ace, takes on Kerman Lejarraga in a highly-anticipated rematch in front of more than 12,000 fans in the Bilbao Arena.

Six months ago, the Spaniard, a heavy favourite for the title, was headed towards unanimous win, before falling to a shock ninth-round defeat.

LAST TIME OUT: David Avanesyan and Carl Greaves celebrate the European title win in Bilbao, Spain.
LAST TIME OUT: David Avanesyan and Carl Greaves celebrate the European title win in Bilbao, Spain.

But for trainer Greaves, the win was nothing more than he expected, and he and Avanesyan are hoping to take that momentum into the rematch, which he feels could elevate his fighter to world level.

“I honestly believe this is the best David has ever looked,” said Greaves.

“He has done a number on all of his sparring partners and he has been performing phenomenally in the gym ­— he truly believes he has got Kerman’s number.”

Avanesyan and Greaves in Newark. (17658974)
Avanesyan and Greaves in Newark. (17658974)

Lejarraga has openly admitted to Spanish media that Avanesyan was the better fighter on March 30, and insists the rematch is necessary for his fight career to progress.

Greaves, in agreement with Lejarraga’s comments, said he expects the 27-year-old to mix things up this time round.

“He’s going to have to change his style and tactics a lot more than what we are because we beat him last time and he’s got to come out and put things right,” he said.

“We have our plans, and if Kerman comes with anything different, it will be a case of adapting in the ring.

“Looking back at that fight, we will have to keep it tight because he is very heavy handed and has a good defence.

“The plan for us is to catch and counter, and importantly, stay switched on, because he has phenomenal power, and it shows as he’s got 23 knockouts in 28 wins.”

Greaves said his team had no fears heading into the rematch, having experienced it all before.

“There was a rematch clause because David was a voluntary.

“They thought David was finished and he would be a good name to add to his record, but we went over there and upset the odds.

“Now Kerman’s got to put it right to move on. Obviously, it is back in Bilbao and he will have the crowd behind him, but the pressure is still on him.

“If he loses, where is he going to go from there?

“It is a make or break fight. If he wants to get a world title fight he has to beat David.”

Despite the pressures of his Spanish counterpart, Greaves said his camp would be under just as much pressure with the added expectation of defending a title.

“It is always harder defending as a champion, because as the underdog, there is no pressure, nobody expects you to win. As a trainer, in fights like these, I can feel the pressure.

“But we have been through it before and it won’t be any worse than last time.”

In March, Avanesyan was a heavy underdog, with bookmakers making him as high as 8/1 to win, but on Saturday night, the Newark fighter is priced at evens, with Lejarraga slightly favoured to regain the belt at 4/5.

The card will be streamed on www.fite.tv from 7pm.

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