Boxing comment: Last weekend in Atlantic City, Wales’s Gavin Rees was outclassed by WBC lightweight world champion Adrien Broner. It was always going to be a tall order for the tough Welshman, but, as he admitted after the fight, he was unprepared for Broner’s power.
Making this statement more impressive is that Broner had moved up in weight from super-feather for the fight, while Rees had come down from light-welter.
It didn’t matter — Broner was just too fast, too accurate and too powerful for a game Rees, who by no means disgraced himself.
On the contrary, the current British lightweight champion won over the crowd with his aggressive style, as he took the fight to Broner in the early rounds and managed to land with some impressive overhand rights and left hooks to the body as he came in low to avoid his much taller opponent’s attempts to keep him at range.
However by the time his corner threw in the towel near the end of the fifth, Rees had no answers to the US pugilist’s impressive skill set, which has drawn comparison with that of Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Broner certainly has a similar physique to his compatriot and he counterpunches with similar devastating effect.
He also possesses tremendous reflexes and utilises the same shoulder-roll defence. But if anything Broner is the more devastating puncher and the more aggressive of the two.
In terms of personality, Broner and Mayweather are cut from the same cloth. Just like Mayweather, Broner is flashy, arrogant, and never fails to take the opportunity to ridicule and disrespect his opponents.
In the lead-up to his latest fight he maintained that he could not remember Rees’s name. Watching and listening to him is like watching and listening to Mayweather, whom he’s clearly modelled himself on.
The proof of course is in the pudding and in the ring, where it matters, Broner serves up a feast.
Undefeated and still just 23 years old, the Ohio native is already being mentioned as a future hall of famer. He is the real deal, make no mistake, evidenced in a perfect record of 26 wins out of 26 fights, with 22 wins by way of knockout.
With Scotland’s current WBO lightweight world champion Ricky Burns in Broner’s sights a future unification battle looms — assuming that Burns comes through the tough challenge presented by Mexico’s current IBF lightweight champion, Miguel Vazquez, in another unification bout on March 16 in London.
If and when this fight does come to pass the contrast between both fighters could not be any more striking. Where Broner is flashy and arrogant, Burns is humble and down to earth.
The fact that Burns has retained his Saturday job at a local sports shop in his home town of Coatbridge, despite being a world champion and in no need of the money, says it all about his character.
In contrast it is likely that Broner only ever steps inside a sports shop accompanied by an ever-present entourage of flunkeys and sycophants to indulge in a spending spree.
Inside the ring, Burns, with a height and reach advantage, has the perfect weapon to control the tempo of any fight with one of the most educated jabs around.
Add to this the heart, intensity, and warrior instinct that have earned him the plaudit of being described as a “throwback” and you have in Scotland’s world champion the kind of opponent that Broner is yet to face, never mind the other way round.
With a pro record of 35 wins and just two defeats, with his last loss all the way back in 2007, Burns is neither hyped up or overrated.
Regardless Rees, who has sparred with Burns, has come out after his defeat to Broner and announced that he believes his conqueror would be a challenge too far for the man from Coatbridge. But being written off is nothing new where Burns is concerned.
He is a fighter who’s been proving the doubters wrong throughout his career. Just in the past couple of years alone he has overcome Roman “Rocky” Martinez on the way to winning the super-featherweight title in 2010, when the pundits felt that Martinez would have too much power for him.
He then defeated Michael Katsidis in his first fight at lightweight, when again many pundits believed that the Australian would have too much power and that Burns should have taken an easier test in his first fight at the higher weight.
Even when he enjoyed the rare privilege of being made the bookies’ favourite to defeat London’s Kevin Mitchell last year, there were still many who opted for Mitchell, refusing to believe that Burns could sustain his run of victories against higher-profile opposition.
A crushing left hook in the fourth round on the way to ending Mitchell’s challenge by TKO was the Scotsman’s answer.
Broner’s camp has been vociferous in accusing Burns of avoiding them. Even prior to his contest against Rees, Broner was calling out Burns for “running away.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. A source close to Burns confirmed exclusively to the Morning Star this week that he is itching to face Broner and has been for some time.
The reason he declined the fight last year was because the timing meant he would only have had seven weeks to prepare, when he always gives himself a 12-week training camp prior to a fight.
The point is that Burns ducks nobody. On the contrary this is a fighter who relishes fighting the best there is.
And with Broner undoubtedly falling into the category of the best there is, a classic encounter is on the cards.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.