The build-up to David Avanesyan’s (27-3-1, 15 KOs) European welterweight title defence against Liam Taylor (23-1-1, 11 KOs) has been full of mutual respect between the two teams, but the Russian’s manager, Neil Marsh, has told Boxing Social that they feel disappointed and let down by the fact that the BBBofC have appointed an all-British team of officials.
They meet on a Ben Shalom-promoted bill on Sky Sports tomorrow night and the titlist had expected that the officials would reflect and respect EBU regulations, only to find out that this will not be the case. Indeed, Avanesyan only discovered that Ian John-Lewis, John Latham, Victor Loughlin, and Mark Lyson have been appointed as judges and the referee respectively when they looked at the details of the bout on BoxRec.
As far as this writer is aware, it is a clear contravention of the EBU’s Article 9.1 that states: ‘Contests for the European Championship at whichever venue they are held shall be controlled by a Referee (non-scoring) and three neutral judges whose decision shall be final.’
The Board and their officials have come under heavy scrutiny lately. Granted, we have the best safety standards in the world, but recent results such as Campbell Hatton’s win over Sonni Martinez last weekend, and the fact that scoring seems skewed towards home fighters has led to a sense of unease and distrust.
The Board and the EBU had not divulged this going into the fight, much to the disappointment of Avanesyan, who has told Boxing Social that: “I was disappointed to learn who the appointed officials were. I don’t think it will make a difference to the result and I respect Liam Taylor so much for fighting me, but I would have expected and liked to have seen neutral officials appointed for this fight.”
Avanesyan has told Boxing Social that he also believes his contractual rights have been ignored yet does not want this to get in the way of what he hopes will be a good fight against someone he likes and respects, and a fighter who he also feels has been put on the sidelines as part of the ‘Who needs him?’ club so will leave it in the hands of his lawyer. “I will act as a champion inside the ring and let my hands be the judges,” he said.
“David is very frustrated, we believed that we would get neutral officials rather than four Board appointed British officials,” said his manager Marsh when speaking to Boxing-Social earlier today. “I know a few of these officials pretty well. I have confidence in the integrity of the Board and the officials in questions, but the difficulty is that I’m representing a Russian fighter, who has a Russian licence, and he is fighting a British kid in England. We just wanted what we believed should have been given to us.
“There’s been back and forwards with the Board and, at times, the fight was at risk, but, yes, there is a fight and David has instructed his lawyer to look into this for him. This isn’t saying we don’t have confidence in these judges. In fact, if we were fighting in America, I’d be begging for any of these officials to be working the fight.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for the Board. I’ve never been up before them before and have the upmost respect for Robert Smith and Charlie Giles. Ultimately, I have got to do what I think is best for my fighter. It is now in the hands of the lawyers. I don’t want to make this any worse than it is. I have full confidence in these officials, but we are not happy.”
“David isn’t unsettled by it,” he added. “He’s had fights before with all-British officials due to the Covid restrictions at the time. He is confident of a knockout win so it might not come into play. At the end of it all, we’d like to thank Sky and BOXXER for the opportunity. We aren’t causing any issues. David loves the British fans and is determined to put a show on for them. We respect the promoters, we respect the Board, but we don’t respect this decision. I have full confidence, but I don’t want to comment any more.”
As for the fight itself, Avanesyan told me that he believes Taylor will be in the form of his life and that he respects the Middleton-based boxer for stepping up to the plate. “Liam Taylor would take the fight when others wouldn’t,” he said.
“Liam sees me as his very big fight, like I see a [Terence] Crawford or world title as mine. I want to win, keep the belt and then go home to friends, but this is hard, difficult work and anyone can cause problems. I believe I can still win more titles.”