Boxing comment: If Don King was promoting Saturday’s Stateside world-title clash between the hyped-up lightweight champion Adrien Broner and the unsung challenger Gavin Rees he would probably coin a favourite phrase which sums up the magnitude of the Welshman’s task.
“You have two chances, slim and none, and slim just left town.”
British fighters are renowned for leaving the States battered and bruised at the hands of a consummate champion.
However on the rare occasion that they are able to reverse the odds their place is usually firmly cemented among British boxing legends.
For example, prior to Lloyd Honeyghan’s 1986 obliteration of Don Curry no-one gave the stylish Londoner a chance, including Fleet Street sports editors who refused to send any of their teams on a wasted trip to view a one-sided beating.
Their misjudgment saw them miss one of the biggest upsets in ring history, as underdog Honeyghan bossed and stopped the undisputed welterweight king Curry, who was being set up for a super-bout with leading middleweight Marvin Hagler.
Although Curry later enjoyed world honours again at light-middleweight, he never fully recovered from his Atlantic City nightmare and the 32-year-old Rees is optimistically hoping to repeat Honeyghan’s exploits.
The stocky Rees (37-1-1), nicknamed “The Rock,” goes into the biggest test of a highly respectable career — which has seen him bag prizes at British, European and world level — confident of springing a surprise even though Broner has abruptly dismissed both his credentials and chances in what he considers a routine defence of his WBC crown.
Gavin’s hopes could be further raised if the cocky Broner has made the fatal fight mistake and been complacent as he expects to brush Rees aside and further convince the fight trade he is the successor to Floyd Mayweather Jnr in both ability and worldwide appeal.
However if Broner is serious about being considered a pound-for-pound leader, proper and precise preparation will be needed to ensure a punch-perfect performance.
Already a two-weight world champion the 23-year-old Ohio resident has chalked up 25 consecutive wins in just under five years as a professional and, worryingly for Rees, only two of Broner’s last 17 opponents have heard the final bell.
Those impressive statistics are further enhanced by a series of brutal stoppages inside four rounds, suggesting Rees could face a blistering onslaught of speed and spiteful power from the first bell.
If Rees can survive this barrage by smothering Broner, frustration and doubt could fester inside the champion’s mind and the unthinkable might just become possible.
While I don’t envisage Rees returning to Newbridge as a two-weight world champion, I hope his solid grounding and huge heart can at least pose some obstacles for the fighter known as “The Problem.”
A quick-fire win for Broner may see him target British stars Ricky Burns and Amir Khan.
However the US pugilist will still need titles in several further weight divisions to join today’s leading prizefighters in Mayweather, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez and Juan Manuel Marquez.
For Broner, no problem!
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