Rees closing in on world title shot
GAVIN Rees is ready to take care of his last bit of unfinished business bef-ore preparing for another world title tilt.
The Newbridge lightweight, currently the European champion, is bidding to match former stablemate Joe Calzaghe by becoming a two-weight world title king.
However, first he needs to overcome old foe Derry Mathews in a Sheffield grudge match tomorrow night.
Rees stunned the world to beat Souleymane M’Baye in 2007 to capture the WBA light welterweight title but, thanks to a lack of discipline outside of the ring, surrendered the crown to Andriy Kotelnik in his first defence.
However, now under the stewardship of Cwmbran’s Gary Lockett, the more mature Rees, 32, is determined to capture world honours and his promoter Eddie Hearn is already in negotiations.
“I am in discussions for a major world title fight in October for Gavin,” said Hearn.
“You can never look past Derry, who was superb against (Anthony) Crolla, but victory should seal the deal for Gavin and it’s a massive boost for him ahead of a tough night in Sheffield.”
Rees faces Mathews at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield for the second time, their first fight halted when the Liverpool fighter suffered a cut nose in a clash of heads.
It led to the only draw of Rees’ career, blighting his record of 36-1-1 and he is determined to right the wrong.
“I hope and expect this to be my last fight at domestic/European level, definitely, I want to move onwards and upwards,” Rees said.
“I’ve got a good ranking with most of the governing bodies now (the WBO rank Rees 12th, while he’s as high as 8th with the WBC) but I promised Derry the rematch and here we are. But hopefully I can get through this one with a good win and then move on to an eliminator, interim or world title shot.”
Rees comes into the fight having looked a million dollars in destroying Anthony Mezaache in his native Paris, but Mathews too is coming off a major victory having stunned Anthony Crolla to win the British title.
“Derry was terrific against Anthony,” said Rees.
“But in the fight before that he lost in the IBO challenge to Emiliano Marsili and he got stopped badly so not many people really backed him to beat Crolla.
“But he put in a massive performance against Crolla, who is being tipped to be the next big thing, so we’re both coming in on the back of good wins and I’m sure he’s confident just like I am.”
Rees’ preparations have been slightly hampered by an arm injury, though trainer Lockett insists he is now at 100%.
And against an opponent with a considerable height and reach advantage, Rees is promising a stoppage win with his trademark body shots doing the damage.
“Even in looking good against Crolla, Derry got hurt a couple of times to the body,” he said.
“My natural style is to the body and I will outbox him and outfight him.
“I am expecting a stoppage win around the middle rounds because I don’t think he can deal with my power.
“After that, it’s onwards and upwards for me. I am going to be a world champion again.”