GAVIN Rees’ hope of a tune-up fight before his bid to become a two-weight world champion bit the dust today after opponent John Murray failed a medical.

Rees, who is the mandatory challenger for the WBA lightweight title, had been looking for only his third outing of 2012 after wins against Anthony Mazzache for the European title and against domestic rival Derry Mathews.

The fight was to have headlined the ‘Christmas Cracker’ bill at London’s Olympia on December 8 and had been hotly anticipated. Dangerous Murray counts St Joseph’s British champion Gary Buckland among his list of vanquished foes and would have provided a stern test for 32-year old Rees, who is arguably showing the best form of his career.

The bout was cancelled following a British Boxing Board of Control medical.

Promoter Eddie Hearn now expects Rees to be fully focused and prepared for his title shot in early 2013, Rees already a former WBA light-welterweight world champion.

Rees’ only defeat over his 39-fight career came when he lost his WBA light-welterweight crown to Andriy Kotelnyk in 2008.

Rees also managed to look on the positive side, insisting he respected the decision.

“Gutted fight with John Murray is off due to medical reasons, just like to wish John all the best. #boxershealthcomesfirst,” he wrote on Twitter.

Murray told his Twitter followers: “My fight with Gavin Rees is off, I’m devastated. Hopefully we can get it on in the New Year. I wish Gav all the best.”