Brilliant Broner set for a battle
Our boxing expert Derek Bilton thinks favourite Adrien Broner will have to work hard for victory against Gavin Rees.
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When Lloyd Honeyghan strutted into an Atlantic City ring back in 1986 he was a huge, huge outsider against Don Curry, a fighter rated as the natural heir to the best fighter in boxing at that time, 'Sugar' Ray Leonard.
'Ragamuffin Man' Honeyghan tore up the script though as he battered Curry to defeat in what remains arguably the finest performance by a British pugilist aboard.
This weekend, in Atlantic City of all places, Gavin Rees goes for broke as a big betting outsider against Adrien Broner, a fighter rated as the natural heir to the best fighter in boxing today, Floyd Mayweather.
Broner is a massively prohibitive 1/33 shot with the odds men, with virtually nobody outside of his tight Welsh training camp giving him a shot.
This despite the fact that Rees has already reigned as a world champion. In 2007, again as a betting underdog, he toppled WBA light-welterweight champion Souleymane M'Baye. He lost that title less than a year later when Andriy Kotelnik stopped him in the final stanza of a gruelling contest, a defeat that remains his only one to date in 39 pro fights.
Rees is a class act. He is the reigning British and European champion at lightweight and has also won a Prizefighter at light-welter. However he is going up against a man on Saturday night who many feel will eventually take the fistic torch from Mayweather and run with it.
The Cincinnati terror is just 23 but is already a world champion in two-weight divisions. He is also coming off the best win of his career to date after stopping the useful Antonio DeMarco in eight ludicrously one-sided sessions.
He has a faultless 25-0 (21) pro log and like all the greats, makes it all look so effortless. His pre-fight posturing is not for everyone but a fighter with his speed, power and ring awareness will always but bums on seats.
His style is pretty unique, combining the speed and dexterity of 'Money' Mayweather with the defensive smarts and shoulder rolls that were so beloved of James Toney and Pernell Whitaker.
Broner is known as 'The Problem', yet the cognoscenti all feel that it's Rees who will have the issue come Saturday.
Gavin is fit and as game as they come. He likes to get in close and bore away, making good use of upper cuts and body shots. However Broner is a master of timing and distance, fighting in the pocket. Making them pay, then making them miss. It will be interesting to see how he elects to box the Welshman, a fighter nine years his senior who these days is working with Gary Lockett.
The build-up to this one has been a bit tasty too with Broner disrespecting the Newbridge slugger, labelling him 'Cabbage Rees' in some recent press gatherings.
Rees shouldn't need any firing up, and at 32 I am sure he will have left no stone unturned for this.
The money has gone on Broner winning this and quick, but Rees knows how to handle himself and his defence is very good.
It'll need to be, as Broner will come at him with shots from unorthodox angles, combinations and flurries from both wings.
It should be a fun fight to watch, and I have a hunch that - while Broner will ultimately get the win - Rees will win plenty of admirers in the US after toughing it out to hear the final bell.