Broner Beats Rees. Now What?

by Kieran Mulvaney

It’s a tough sport, boxing. No sooner has a victorious fighter endured the pain of defeating another man in physical combat, than the cries are issued for him to fight someone bigger and better next time. As Larry Merchant observed, it’s a sport of “what have you done for me lately?”

As a case in point, Adrien Broner had barely toweled off following last Saturday’s five-round demolition of British and European lightweight champ Gavin Rees before critics were poring over his performance, looking for tell-tale signs of vulnerabilities and offering up suggestions for who might offer the most serious challenge to his undefeated record.

Last week, HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman suggested that there is surely somebody out there who has Broner’s number, but that we still have no idea who that might person might be or what kind of style he might have. Did the fact that Broner lost the first two rounds against Rees, and that Rees appeared able to land with relative ease in those opening six minutes, provide a clue as to that boxer’s identity?

Yes and no.  Mostly no.

It was clear that Broner was completely unfazed by the Welshman’s early assault, that few punches landed cleanly and that those that did bothered the American about as much as the average gnat bite. Broner, who particularly enjoys being an aggressive counter-puncher, had clearly decided to be just that. He allowed Rees to come forward and take whatever time he needed to establish the ideal distance and start timing his counters. In round 3, that’s what Broner began to do, and from that moment on it was just a matter of time.

Nonetheless, the fact that (as Kellerman noted) Broner likes to box in a wide stance, inviting his foes to come forward so that he can fight, may prove to be both a crowd-pleasing asset and a potential vulnerability. How would he shape up against a bigger guy than Rees, if he moved up another weight division to 140 pounds and took on someone who can hit much harder?

And how soon could Broner move up? Any time he wanted to. He’s built of rock, weighed 150 on fight night, and is still only 23. And who would be that testing opponent should he do so? Plenty of names were floated, but the one that seemed to whet the most appetites was Brandon Rios – chin of granite, indefatigable, constantly churning punches that so far have never failed to bludgeon his foe into defeat.

It’s quite the thought. The flashy counter-punching Broner against the lunch-pail aggressor Rios: Two undefeated records on the line in a clash of styles. We all know how boxing’s promotional politics frequently conspire to snuff out such dream matches; and of course Rios has business to take care of first, in the form of a March 30 rematch with Mike Alvarado. But it’s a mouth-watering prospect – and whichever man might emerge victorious, perhaps he might even be able to savor it a while before the drumbeats grow louder for him to fight someone yet bigger and yet more dangerous. 

Broner's Impressive Run Continues With a 5th-Round KO

by Michael Gluckstadt

Adrien Broner, Gavin Rees - Photo Credit: Will Hart

The latest performance of the Adrien Broner show was held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City Saturday night, an entertaining fifth-round knockout of the Welshman Gavin Rees. Before a supportive crowd, Broner danced around and outclassed his opponent in the latest of his string of impressive-looking victories.
 
It seems nobody told Rees that he was meant to be a supporting player in the evening's program, so Broner took it upon himself to deliver the news. Rees came out at the opening bell with a head of steam, testing Broner with shots to the body. In a telling exchange early in the fifth round, after Broner landed a shot to the side of Rees' head, Rees motioned to Broner that he hadn't been hurt--so Broner went ahead and punched him flush on the face.
 
Soon after, Broner brought Rees down to one knee with a thudding shot to the body. Rees got up from that and continued to press on bravely, until at the end of the round, his trainer Gary Lockett threw in the towel.
 
Rees had also been knocked down in the fourth round, when Broner landed a thundering left uppercut squarely on Rees' jaw. Broner had started the fight off slowly, taking the first round and a half to figure out what Rees was bringing to the table. Then, Broner came alive and began dancing for the crowd, feinting large windup haymakers before delivering crisp shots to Rees' body.

In the third, Broner really got going. He landed an extensive combination with Rees against the ropes. When he found himself tied up in an awkward hold, Broner threw--and landed!--a punch behind his head.       

"No one's ever treated me like that in a boxing ring," Rees would say after the fight. "I knew he was going to be powerful, but his power really stung me. I got reckless in the third and fourth and that was pretty much the end of it." As for the prospects for his opponent, Rees said, "He's not a superstar in the making, he's already there".

Read the Complete Adrien Broner vs. Gavin Rees Fight Recap on HBO.com

Another Round of Trash Talk at the Broner-Rees Weigh-in

by Michael Gluckstadt

In the lobby of Caesars Atlantic City, Gavin Rees had already put on his shirt and walked off the stage while Adrien Broner continued to yell, "It's fight time!" to his fans. This came after Broner had refused to part ways with his soda can before stepping onto the scales and whispered menacingly in his Welsh opponent's ear during the face-off for the cameras. As the 5'7" Broner leaned down toward his opponent, also listed at 5'7" but more generously so, a fan shouted, "He's short." Broner smiled widely and said, "It ain't about short, it's about class." Wearing leopard-print socks, he added, "Sex sells."

Broner (25-0, 21 KOs), after finally ditching the Sprite can for a brief second, weighed in at exactly 134 pounds. Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) came in at 134.5.

In the co-featured fight, Australia's Sakio Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs) and his Montenegrin opponent Nikola Sjekloca (25-0, 7 KOs), both weighed in at 167.5 pounds for their 168-pound title eliminator bout.

Click for More Adrien Broner vs. Gavin Rees Fight Info

CompuBox Analysis: Broner vs. Rees

by CompuBox

If Adrien Broner sought to emulate the career path of his idol Floyd Mayweather Jr., the verdict as of Saturday is this: So far, so good.

Like "Money," Broner won the WBC super featherweight title, then, in his last fight, won the WBC lightweight belt, gaining them in the same order and from the same sanctioning body as his hero. On Saturday, "The Problem" will face arguably his most experienced opponent in terms of facing world-class opponents in Welshman Gavin Rees, who comes into the fight with a 37-1-1 (18 KO) record.

The 32-year-old Rees is looking to make his own bit of history. Should he upset Broner, he will become only the second onetime 140-pound titlist to drop down and win a belt at 135. The first: Carlos Ortiz, who beat Joe Brown in April 1962 after holding the 140-pound crown previously.

The identity of Saturday's winner may be found in their previous CompuBox-tracked fights:

See more Compubox analysis of Adrien Broner vs Gavin Rees on HBO.com.

Kellerman Takes Five on Broner

by Kieran Mulvaney

Lightweight champion and possible superstar-in-the-making Adrien “The Problem” Broner returns to our screens on Saturday, when he defends his title against Welshman Gavin Rees. Love him or hate him (and there are plenty of fans who feel one way or the other), it’s impossible to ignore the brash young man from Cincinnati. His meteoric rise has included dominant (and sometimes controversy-tinged) wins against the likes of Eloy Perez and Vicente Escobedo; most recently, he annihilated Antonio DeMarco in what may have been the stand-out performance of his career so far.

We sat down with HBO Boxing analyst Max Kellerman, who will call Saturday’s fight alongside Jim Lampley and Roy Jones, and he offered his thoughts on Broner’s boxing, personality and career trajectory.

 

There’s Surely Somebody Out There Who Can Beat Broner or Give Him Trouble, But We Don’t Yet Know Who It Is

“It is to Broner’s credit that a guy like Gavin Rees, who’s a legitimate fighter, is ordinary compared to him. And the thing is, most fighters are ordinary compared to Broner. There are two kinds of fighters who could give Broner trouble. One is a guy who is on his level: if he fought Floyd Mayweather, that would be a difficult fight, right? For both guys. And the second is someone who possesses whatever kind of style happens to trouble him. We’re not sure what that is yet: is it a southpaw, someone who’s aggressive but cute, like Daniel Ponce de Leon was at the time Broner fought him [and struggled to a decision win in 2011]? Because Broner struggled in that fight, does that mean that’s the kind of fighter who will always trouble him? Or was that just a younger fighter having an off-night against a veteran?”

 

He Maximizes His Advantages

“His basic philosophy seems to be: I’m faster than you, I’m stronger, I hit harder, I’m more skilled, I have a better defense. There are two directions you can take that. You can totally minimize the risk in the fight and win as you please. Or you can say, because I have all these advantages, then the more exchanges there are, the more damage I’m going to do. So Broner steps inside punching range and beats the hell out of guys.”

 

If He Ends Up as Good as We Think He Might Be, We’ll Look Back on His Last Fight as Exhibit A

“I’m not saying Broner is going to the Hall of Fame. But if he is, his victory over Antonio DeMarco is a time capsule fight. If Broner turns out to be this super-special great fighter, that is a classic example of a great fighter in his prime. DeMarco was widely regarded as the second best guy in the division, and how many more perfect fights can you have? It was one of the more thorough beatdowns I’ve ever seen. It was a virtuoso performance.”

 

His Personality May Grate, But He Aims to Please

“He’ll turn some people off because they view him as arrogant. But if you talk to him, he’s a good guy. His celebration of self is meant to include other people. He wants you to celebrate him too. It’s not intended to be alienating. Floyd Mayweather has a celebration of self in which, to a certain portion of the population, he wants to play as the antihero. Broner isn’t really doing that. He isn’t going to change who he is to make you like him, but he wants you to like him.”

 

Let’s Line Them Up and See What We’ve Got

“I believe Broner and Broner’s people think that they’ve got the goods, and I think it’s first come first served. That’s what it seems to me. Broner is such a superior talent that it’s simply a matter of staying consistent and ultimately showing us what we suspect: That he’s much better than everyone, and he’s one of those guys who can fight one top guy after another and lick them. That’s the suspicion and now here’s the fun part: Let’s see if he can do it.”

 

Note: Following the postponement of the Johnathon Banks-Seth Mitchell rematch, which was scheduled to open Saturday’s broadcast, Broner-Rees will now be preceded by a super-middleweight contest between Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekloca. Montenegro’s Sjekloca is undefeated but untested on the world stage; he’ll be up against by far the toughest and most experienced opponent of his career in Cameroon-born veteran Bika, who has been in with the likes of Joe Calzaghe, Lucian Bute and Andre Ward. The winner of the bout will be in line for a crack at one of Ward’s super-middleweight belts.

HBO Boxing Schedule Packed with Hot Young Stars and Tested Veterans

by Kieran Mulvaney

Next week HBO returns with its second boxing broadcast of the year, a card that kicks off a series of bouts between now and the end of March. Here’s what’s on tap to take us through the first quarter of 2013:

February 16: Adrien Broner vs Gavin Rees
Atlantic City, New Jersey

Adrien Broner has come so far, so fast, and has established himself with such authority as one of the stars of the sport, that it is sometimes surprising to realize how young he is. Still only 23, he is already a two-weight world champion. Fresh off seizing a lightweight crown with the destruction of Antonio DeMarco, he takes on once-beaten British and European champ Gavin Rees in his first defense.

March 9: Bernard Hopkins vs Tavoris Cloud
Brooklyn, New York

Bernard Hopkins began his professional boxing career before Broner was born, and yet he continues to operate at the championship level. He already holds the record for the oldest boxer to win a world title, a record he secured when outpointing Jean Pascal in Montreal in 2011. He was a youngster of 46 then; now a fully mature 48, he takes on the challenge of undefeated light heavyweight titleholder Tavoris Cloud.

The undercard sees the return of always popular heavyweight Cris Arreola, and exciting young welterweight prospect Keith Thurman.

March 16: Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov
Carson, California

After securing a hugely controversial win against Manny Pacquiao last May, Bradley found himself with his nose pressed against the window as Pacquiao eschewed a rematch in favor of furthering his rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez. And so, 10 months after his last ring appearance, Bradley is taking on little-known but dangerous Provodnikov, a hard-punching pressure fighter. The Desert Storm will need to be blowing at full strength to avoid the upset.

 

March 30: Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado
Las Vegas, Nevada

The first fight between these two junior welterweights was the consensus fight of the year in 2012 until Marquez flattened Pacquiao in December. It was a bruising, brutal, back-and-forth slobberknocker that ended in the seventh round when Rios unleashed a flurry that had Alvarado in trouble on the ropes and prompted a referee stoppage. There’s no reason to think the rematch will be any less compelling. Honestly, there’s nothing to be said about it except, in the words of Mills Lane: “Let’s get it on.”

Gavin Rees Brings a Mixed Bag from Across the Pond

by Kieran Mulvaney

There has been no shortage of relatively unfancied fighters from the British Isles who have upset the applecart and upended the careers of more highly favored foes from across the Atlantic.

Just ask Donald Curry, whose Hall-of-Fame trajectory was knocked permanently off course by a mauling at the hands of Lloyd Honeyghan in 1986. Or Jeff Lacy, who received such a thumping from Joe Calzaghe 20 years later that he was barely ever seen again. Or Razor Ruddock, who began the evening of October 31, 1992 as a big favorite over Lennox Lewis and ended it flat on his face as Larry Merchant presciently proclaimed of the victorious Brit that “we have a great new heavyweight on the boxing scene.”

Then again, sometimes the script has unfolded differently. Ricky Hatton’s limitations were cruelly exposed by both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Barry McGuigan promised so much but ultimately delivered so little. And Frank Bruno was … well, Frank Bruno.

So where on the spectrum of British challengers do we place Gavin Rees, who takes on lightweight champ Adrien Broner on HBO World Championship Boxing on February 16?

The good news is that he has some pedigree: He is a former world titlist, who has lost only once in 39 professional outings and has gone undefeated for almost five years. The less good news is that his world title reign, which began with a points win over Souleymane M’Baye, ended just eight months later with a TKO loss to Andriy Kotelnik in his first defense. That abbreviated hold on a world crown came at 140 pounds; he has since subsequently moved down to lightweight, five pounds and one division lighter. In contrast, Broner has moved up from junior lightweight. But at 5’4”, Rees will be the shorter man in the ring by three inches, and his 64” reach will put him at a seven-inch disadvantage against the American.

Not long after being relieved of his world title, Rees looked in danger of going off the boil. In December 2009 he took part in – and won – a ‘Prizefighter’ tournament, in which entrants fight a series of three-round elimination bouts over the course of the evening. His next couple of outings were six- rounders, and while Broner was also contesting six-round bouts at the same time, the flashy young man from Cincinnati was then just 20 years old. Rees was 29.

But since then, the Welshman has been in the form of his life, capturing the British and European lightweight belts, and recording four of his 18 career stoppages in his last six fights. Most recently, he overcame Liverpool’s Derry Matthews in nine hard-fought rounds that showcased his strengths – a stiff left jab, a hook off the jab, a fierce right hand, and an aggressive style – and his weaknesses, such as a vulnerability to uppercuts and an occasionally alarming lack of head movement that will likely have Broner salivating.

The likelihood is that Rees will come up short, possibly way short – a commentary not on his ability but that of his opponent, who may very well prove to be a spectacular, once-in-a-generation talent. But then, there were plenty who thought the same of Curry when he was riding high atop the pound-for-pound lists, only to be brought crashing to Earth by a confident, brawling challenger from Britain. That fight took place on the Atlantic City boardwalk, as will Broner’s defense against Rees. Supporters of the Welshman will be hoping that lightning can strike twice in the same place and deliver a shock every bit as stunning as that night more than 26 years ago.