2012 saw a new name added to that list among the boxing fraternity, and he is none other than “The Problem” Adrien Broner. The 23-year-old’s mercurial talent has long since been evident, however there were still doubters. An eight round destruction of then WBC titlist Antonio DeMarco laid those doubts to rest for many, as the Cincinnati native combined destructive offence with defensive shrewdness. As a result matchmaking for Broner has become considerably harder. Negotiations with WBO champ Ricky Burns and Cuban stylist Richard Abril both fell through.
Thankfully Gavin Rees doesn’t believe in monsters. “At the end of the day, he’s just a normal guy with two arms and two legs.” the Welshman told Tha Boxing Voice as he looks ahead to his showdown with Broner on February 16th at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
While other’s shied away from the challenge presented by the man dubbed the sport’s next superstar, Rees didn’t have to think twice as his promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport confirmed. “I phoned up Gavin and said, ‘I think I’ve got a world title shot for you.’ He said, ‘Who’s it against?’ I said, ‘Adrien Broner.’ He said, ‘Lovely.’ I hadn’t even told him about the money or anything. It took him a nanosecond to accept the fight.”
The Rock will be aiming to become the only the second Welsh two-weight world champion in history, after future Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe. His reign at 140 lbs was short lived, dropping the belt he claimed from Souleymane M’Baye in his first defence to Andriy Kotelnyk. Since that 2008 defeat Rees has gone on an unbeaten run which has seen him team up with rookie trainer Gary Lockett and drop down to lightweight. These choices have paid dividends as he now possesses greater stamina and increased punching power, visibly evident in displays that have seen him claim the British and European straps, as well as gaining a top 15 ranking with three out of four sanctioning bodies.
While none of his opponents at 135 lbs are of the level of Broner, Rees is confounded by the criticism this match-up has received from certain corners yet is adamant he is the man to solve “The Problem.” “People aren’t giving me much of a chance, but I’m confident of beating him. Before this fight was announced everyone was saying I’m world class, now all of a sudden I’m shit because I’m fighting Broner.”
“He leans back a lot and he leaves his body open a hell of a lot but he’s a world class operator. There are weaknesses there that we will work on exploiting in the gym.”
While Broner was eye-catching in claiming the WBC crown, the Welshman feels DeMarco’s tactics played a big part in that. “All Demarco did really was stand there in front of him. He leaned into him waiting to be hit. I can duck and move a bit more. People say he (DeMarco) is world class, but I watched it and he did so much wrong, but it’s easy for me to say on the outside, we’ll see what happens when I get in there.”