After a string of may be, could be and should be stories purporting to name ring legend ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley’s next opponent, the 44-year old former pound for pound great has signed to face UK-based Russian, David Avanesyan, for the latter’s interim WBA world welterweight title at the Gila River Arena, in Glendale, Arizona, on 28 May.
In a glittering 22-year ring career, the former three-weight world champion has fought and defeated some of the most recognizable names in the sport and, against the talented but largely unknown Avanesyan, who won the title courtesy of a ninth round stoppage over Venezuela’s Charlie Navarro in Monaco in November last year, he gets his 23d world ‘title’ fight in 59 contests knowing that a win will propel him to the giddy heights he once occupied with such assuredness.
The contest is a coup for Avanesyan’s manager and promoter, Neil Marsh, who has secured Mosley for what is a significant step up in class for his Russian charge. Marsh said: “David has only been with me for 10 months but, in that time, we’ve managed to get him from fringe rankings to no. 1 in the WBA. His last win really took him to the next level and, against Shane, we’re very confident he can continue his momentum.
“The winner of this fight should really be in the mix with some of the biggest names at, and around, welterweight – [Brandon] Rios, [Lamont] Peterson, [Danny] Garcia, [Shawn] Porter, [Timothy] Bradley, even Kell Brook and Amir Khan but Keith Thurman is a likely next fight as he holds the WBA regular title. It really is that big – for David it’s a chance to get amongst fighters of that calibre and have a really good go at them and, for Shane, it’s a chance for him to get back to the level he was once at. He’s a great boxer, a true legend of the sport, and, such is the esteem he is held, a win would get him another world title chance against any of those fighters no problem.”
Should he win Avanesyan, a pro since 2009 and who has accumulated a ledger of 21 wins from 23 contests (one draw) in that time, will also gain some much needed exposure as the contest is also likely to be aired free on terrestrial TV in the US.
Speaking on how the fight came about, Marsh revealed that he had been in discussions with Mosley and his team for a while after meeting the LA native at his last fight in Panama.
He said: “I’m obviously delighted at securing Shane for this fight as we knew plenty of promoters were keen to sign him but I met him and saw his last contest in Panama just before Christmas
“We talked about the possibility of the fight and, with David having the interim title, it was something that Shane was immediately interested in.”
Marsh revealed that he flew to Panama to not only witness Mosley’s fight – a tenth round stoppage win over Venezuela’s Patrick Lopez, but also to meet the ring legend in person to discuss a meeting with Avanesyan and get negotiations under way.
He said: “We’ve been working on the contract for a couple of months and Shane finally signed last week. Sometimes what goes on in the background to secure top fights like this can be a bit frustrating but Shane and his team have been superb all the way through, a pleasure to work with, and David, Carl [Greaves], me and all the team are really looking forward to going to California in May.”
Trained in Newark, Lincolnshire, by Carl Greaves, Avanesyan is equally, and understandably, delighted at facing one of his boxing heroes in the ring. He said: “When I first heard that Neil was talking [to Shane] about the fight I couldn’t believe it. He is one of the all-time greats [and] even to meet him would be an honour [let alone] face him in the ring in defence of my belt. I am already in training and looking forward to going to America to meet him. Hopefully I can retain my belt and meet some of the other top fighters in the world there soon.”
For trainer Carl Greaves, the contest is another chance to work with the boxer, and manager, he is fast coming to see as the real deal.
He said: “I’ve had David since September 2015, before the Navarro bout, and in that time he’s really improved as a fighter. He’s unbelievably dedicated, works hard and does exactly what we want, in the ring and out. I’d give him a great chance against any of the top names at welter. Credit to Neil for securing the fight against Mosley. What a chance for a British-based fighter. We knew there was lots of interest from other promoters trying to get Mosley for their fighters. If you could ask for a match for a fighter trying to make his name in and around the division then this is the one. Neil has really pulled it off here and a win for David would really open doors for him in the States.”
Speaking from the offices of his promotional company, GoBox, in California last week, Mosley said: “I’m really looking forward to the fight. I’ve seen tapes of David and he’s a good fighter. He works hard and is very strong.”
Confirming that negotiations had been ongoing since Marsh saw him fight in December, the man who has faced the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Winky Wright, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather also revealed he is being trained by another boxing legend, Roberto Duran, for a fight he sees as a major one for both himself and Avanesyan.
He said: “I’ve been working in the gym but proper training, with Roberto, who I met in Panama, will start soon. The winner of this fight will be at the very top, with some big fights in America in the future. I can’t wait to take care of business.”
Shane Mosley v David Avanesyan for the interim WBA world welterweight title will take place at the Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona, on 28 May.