Welsh world champions insist the Rock can shock the world
EITHER a succession of Britain’s greatest boxers of this Millennium or the bookmakers are horribly wrong about tonight’s WBA world lightweight title fight between Adrien Broner and Gavin Rees.
There is simply no other conclusion to draw with some bookies offering odds as extravagant as 19/1 on Rees leaving Atlantic City as a two-time world champion.
Broner, just 23 and with a physique and bravado that is unique in the lightweight division, is the next big thing of American boxing, the next Floyd Mayweather even.
Open and shut case right?
Not in the opinions of Enzo and Joe Calzaghe, Nathan Cleverly and current lightweight world champion Ricky Burns, all of who believe Rees can shock the world with an upset.
“Gavin has been underrated for so many years,” Joe Calzaghe told the Argus.
“He’s a tougher opponent than anyone else Broner has faced and he’ll help us to see if Broner really is as good as they say.
“I’m not sure he is and that’s why I think Gavin can win.”
Enzo Calzaghe, Rees’ former trainer before he began working with Cwmbran’s Gary Lockett, went even further in assessing Rees’ hopes.
“I’m not hoping he’ll win, I won’t watch begging or praying Gavin can cause the upset, I KNOW Gavin can cause the upset,” he said.
“He’s a tough kid, stoic and he’s a good strategist who can adapt in the ring.
“I believe totally in my mind that Gavin can and will do it and then I’d love to see him fight Ricky Burns. It’s not impossible.”
WBO light heavyweight king Cleverly is also confident Rees will deliver on the big stage.
“It’s much less one-sided than people realise,” he said.
“If Gavin is fit and firing and in the best condition he’s got a very good chance.”
“I’ve sparred with Gavin and he’s a very skilled and underrated boxer,” WBO lightweight champion Burns explained. “He’s got a chance.”
Broner is without question the most hyped of the new young breed of American fighter, already rated as the sixth best pound-for-pound fighter according to Ring magazine.
Rees isn’t convinced by Broner, the supreme confidence of a fighter defeated only once since turning professional 13-years ago perhaps understandable.
"People keep asking me if he is the best guy I’ve ever fought. On paper he is, but we’ll determine tonight only after being the ring with him,” Rees said.
Indeed, to those of us supporting the Rock and rooting for a big upset, it is Broner who still poses more questions than answers.
Can he go to the trenches? Because Gavin has the talent to take him there.
Is he overhyed, just like another American, Jeff Lacy, was before him in another supposedly one-sided affair?
We will find out tonight but I truly believe there is more right in what is being said by the Calzaghes and Co than in the frankly ridiculous betting odds.
It’s not unrealistic to believe Rees has a chance, not at all.
I’ve seen him take punishment for 12 rounds against a world class light welterweight and not wilt.
In the eyes of Enzo Calzaghe, Rees is second only to Joe and tonight he has a chance to finally step out of the shadows and into the limelight.