'Time will tell': Carl Greaves interview
Shaun Brown talks to Carl Greaves about training David Avanesyan for his contest with Josh Kelly on Saturday night, Sam Bowen's withdrawal from a Ronnie Clark showdown and much more...
Promoting since 2007, with around 120 shows in the bag, Carl Greaves is one of the most respected figures in boxing. The 42-year-old former British title challenger removes the promotional hat on Saturday night and dons the training cap as he aims to guide his 30-year-old welterweight charge David Avanesyan past rising star Josh Kelly at the Sheffield Arena live on Sky Sports.
Greaves spoke to Boxing Monthly about the prospect of the former world title challenger's task against Kelly as well as the devastating news that his British super featherweight champion Sam Bowen had to pull out of his eagerly anticipated defence against Ronnie Clark, which was scheduled for next weekend.
BM: What's your thoughts on Kelly v Avenesyan?
CG: Josh Kelly is obviously very good, he's an exceptional talent. Fantastic amateur and one of the rising stars in British boxing but with all due respect he's not been near anybody of David's level yet so it's a massive step up for Josh. Is it too early for him? We'll see. I'm really confident with the fight. The longer it goes the more it suits David and if Josh can't hurt David then he's in a whole lot of trouble because David's got a great chin, he's only been hurt once and that was in his last fight [against Egidijus Kavaliauskas]. He didn't get put down by him neither, but other than that he's never been really in any trouble. He's been a great sparring partner for Kell Brook over the years so I'm really confident. It's a great fight. Is it too early for Josh? Time will tell.
BM: When that fight got offered was it a no-brainer to say yes?
CG: It was mentioned for the last fight that Josh had on 8 November but David never had no notice and he's been out the ring since February so he needed a bit more time. We didn't know we were going to get the call for this show in December but David was straight in the gym, training hard, training twice a day so he's been actually training longer for the fight than it's been announced for. He's a fitness fanatic, he trains hard all year round but not as hard if he had a fight. As soon as he got the fight date he was on the plane the next day to Heathrow, I picked him up, and we were straight into it full steam.
BM: On to Sam Bowen, who had to withdraw from the Ronnie Clark fight.
CG: Yeah, I'm devastated. It's exceptionally gut wrenching because it took a long time for the fight to get put together and get announced. Both teams knew the fight was going to happen in December but we just didn't know when. There was talk of the 8th, then the 15th, then the 22nd and then they finally realised they had to get some southerners out! It was a good fight to put it on that bill in Brentwood. In fact it was the day that it got announced that the rib injury actually happened. Sam went home after sparring, said he was in pain. We continued the spar. He didn't really say much during the spar but when he got out he said "I'm in agony". I messaged him the next morning and he said: "Carl I'm in agony, I ain't been able to sleep properly all night". So, he went to the Doctors they had a feel around with him and said it's in the worst place it can possibly be. With ribs they don't x-ray them because there's nothing they can do so he went to the hospital to see if they would because he wanted to know what the injury actually was. I've had a cracked rib myself and how he was talking I didn't think it was cracked I think it was more the muscle. Even if he got better he's not going to be able to do sparring or proper training, it's going to be on his mind too so it's best we heal it and give it time and hopefully the fight will get made again. I don't think he'll be ready again until March because he's not going to be able to train until at least January and then he'll back in the gym ready for March.
The funny thing with Sam he's always been on top of everybody he's sparred. He's sparred with David who is an elite level fighter and a lot bigger than Sam so it was a very, very good spar and Sam learned a lot from it and he's come away and that's happened. David did the same thing to Kell Brook before the Diego Chaves fight. I said to Sam you've got nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed about it's just one of them things. We want to move on fast with Sam, we don't need to hang about. He's boxed at such an elite level as an amateur himself as a 63.5kg kid. They've all got bigger as he's got smaller. I've got massive respect for Ronnie, we had a bit of banter on Twitter a long time ago but we have got massive respect for him. He's come on leaps and bounds. He's had some great results lately. Beat Zelfa and pushed Martin Ward to the wire. It'll be an absolute war because neither of them like to take a backward step, you can imagine the sort of fight it's going to be.
BM: So in a strange way do you get more confidence for David going into the fight against Josh that he knows where to place the body punches and he can obviously whack?
CG: He's a great body puncher, he's a world-class fighter no doubt about it. The only thing that has gone against him in the past at elite level is his size because he's not the biggest of welterweights. He's an all-rounder, he can box, he can fight and he's got that determination and will and he's solid all round really. It's a great fight. If Josh comes through this with flying colours then he's definitely a star of the future and he's definitely worth all the attention he's getting but has it come too early? They've obviously looked into David's last few fights losing to [Lamont] Peterson, and losing to Kavaliauskas, but the size of them guys... I know for a fact they were both 12 stone when they got in the ring so they're huge welterweights. It's freakish how much weight they put on. David is solid, he's doesn't abuse his body and he's in good nick all year round and don't bloat up so his body's levelled out and that's how it should be.
BM: How would you then sum up your own 2018 so far?
CG: It's been a great year really. With Sam Bowen winning the British title, the WBA Inter-Continental, Nina Bradley becoming Commonwealth champion and with the fighters I actually train I think I've only had one defeat all year, no two defeats which was David and Dec Spelman. It's been a good year for me results wise. I manage a lot of fighters and they've all done really well. Building fighters up and then my road kids, I've got about ten lads on the road, they've all caused a few upsets. Every year is all about trying to progress that little bit more.
BM: Still enjoying it?
CG: One minute you feel like you're top of the mountain and next minute you feel like you're at the bottom of the mountain. It's one of them... promoting is very, very difficult because you start off with big bills and you think 'Great, this is going to be fantastic' then one drops out, the other drops out... it's just one of them. On the whole I've got to be happy with how it's going. I average between 12 and 15 shows a year and we're just starting to get lads in big fights again.