NEWBRIDGE boxer Gavin Rees has vowed to take his chance of making history by becoming a two-weight world champion.
The European lightweight king added the British title with a destructive ninth round stoppage victory over rival Derry Mathews on Saturday night.
The 32-year old had endured a technical draw against Liverpool’s Mathews nine months ago in Newport as a result of his opponent’s broken nose but Rees moved to 37-1-1 with his dominant display in Sheffield.
Known as the Rock, Rees has already been a world champion at light welterweight and has vowed to match former stablemate Joe Calzaghe by becoming a two-weight king.
He explained: “I said I would win this fight and I said I would do it by stoppage and I’ve proved I have the power to be able to make boasts like that.
“I had full respect for Derry but that will hopefully be it for me now with the British level fighters.
“It was a tough fight. I just caught and wobbled in the first round but after three or four I took over the fight.
“I always felt I had the power, I’m the hardest hitting lightweight in Britain. The power is definitely showing and now I look onwards and upwards.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed he expects to grant Rees’ wish and expects news soon.
“It’s time now for Gavin, it’s time for him to become a two time world champion,” he said.
“We expect news in the next couple of weeks, he produced another great performance and I hope Derry Mathews gets a shot at the European and British titles again because he deserves them, he was a warrior in there.”
Rees’ trainer Gary Lockett was disappointed with his charge for failing to dictate his kind of fight, Mathews starting the better just as he did in Newport last year.
“Gavin wasn’t getting close enough and was being picked off, I’m disappointed if I am honest and know he can improve. It took him too long to fight as we wanted.”
Liverpool puncher Mathews who shocked Anthony Crolla last time out used his jab splendidly to keep Rees at range early in the fight, Mathews dictating the pace as he stepped back half a step to subdue Rees, a tactic good enough to take three of the opening four stanzas.
However, from the fifth Rees took control, cumulative damage taking a toll on Mathews who was unable to step back as he had been doing so effectively as Rees began to cut the distance in between them.
That meant Rees was able to box on the inside and his clusters were doing far more damage than the solitary jabs from Mathews who had no option but to stand his ground in the centre of the ring or look to hold.
The pair began to trade and fight closer and closer and that was exactly what Rees desired, powerful shots from all angles mounting up in the sixth and seventh.
A rocket from the Rock blasted Mathews at the top of his head with 20 seconds remaining in the eighth and pinned to the ropes the brave Liverpool fighter was arguably only saved by the bell.
Mathews characteristically came out swinging in the ninth and did all he could to stem the tide, but Rees finally landed the big one as a right cross blasted his opponent’s jaw and a left jab finished the job as Mathews went sprawling.
He was up before the count reached eight but with blood seeping from his eye and his legs like jelly the referee rightly stopped the contest.
It wasn’t a perfect night for Welsh boxing however, with Kerry Hope losing his European middleweight title in a rematch with champion Grzegorz Proksa.
The fight didn’t quite live up to Rees’ earlier triumph or a blood and thunder points victory for hometown hero Kell Brook over Carson Jones, but on this occasion Hope’s tremendous heart and bravery wasn’t enough against the classy Pole.
Proksa looked in control and ended the fight in the eighth with only seconds remaining thanks to a thunderous right hand.