He took a round to get warmed up in the main event at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Saturday night, but once he did, Adrien Broner's skill set was exceedingly problematic for Gavin Rees, a Welshman who had never been down, even in sparring, before this night.
Broner sent him down in the fourth, and the fifth. Rees got up, but ate shots and his corner halted the increasingly one-sided event. The time of the ending was 2:59 of the fifth.
Broner held on to the WBC 135 pound title.
The winner said after to Max Kellerman that he had to see how much gas Rees had, but knew he'd be a tough out. He apologized for not being at his best. And next? Ricky Burns? He said he didn't know who that is. He will go to the drawing board with advisor Al Haymon and promoter Golden Boy, he said. Broner then watched his knockdowns and complimented his own work.
In the first, the 5-4 Rees rushed the 5-7 Broner, and outworked him, landing some nice left hooks to the body. Broner got busier in round two, landing some clean rights. He clowned, winding up his right a few times. Rees' mobility, and active head movement surprised some folks who figured the little fella was a stationary sort.
The Welshman came in with a hurt elbow and had to curtail sparring early but his adrenaline covered up that injury thru three. Rees got backed up and bashed in the last third of the round, and his corner told him to move, not stand in front of the Cinci boxer.
The Welshman ate lead rights in the fourth, and as his legs weren't as active, he was there to get touched. Down he went with 2:05 left, but he was up at 4. A right uppercut he didn't see was the damager. His galpal actually bolted from her seat after that.
In the fifth, Rees landed a few sharp rights, and he looked to make a rumble of it. His work rate kept Broner from loading up like in the fourth. He went to a knee with 26 seconds to go, off a left hook to the body. He rose, but ate more, and his corner threw in the towel.
ADRIEN BRONER VS. GAVIN REES POST-FIGHT QUOTES
ADRIEN BRONER, WBC Lightweight World Champion
"I knew he [Rees] was going to come to fight. He's a world-class fighter.
"He [Rees] kept coming. He threw every shot like it was his best shot. I knew he would hang.
"When you have two world-class fighters going toe-to-toe, it's going to be a great fight.
"Thanks to everyone who came out. It's [NBA] All-Star Weekend and you came to see an All-Star.
"He's [Rees] tougher than a steak that's been well done.
"If I fought Ricky Burns, he would get burnt out. I want to fight him, but if he doesn't want to fight me. Oh well.
"There are high expectations for me to take boxing over after [Floyd] Mayweather and [Manny] Pacquiao hang up their gloves.
"Tonight was a nice fight. I have to go back and watch it. Overall I felt pretty. I just looked in the mirror and I still look good.
"I would fight 10 times a year if I could."
GAVIN REES, Former World Champion
"He's [Broner] the best I have ever been in [the ring] with. It's not a case of whether he will go on to be a super star... he is already there.
"I made a lot of mistakes and I believe I have a better skill set than that.
"I knew he [Broner] hit hard, but his power just stunned me. I got reckless and that was the end of the night, but I was always going to get back up.
"I would have gone on until I was knocked out cold. I disagree with Gary pulling me out, but he knows that I would have gotten hurt. We are good friends and he was just looking out for me."
MIKE STAFFORD, Broner's Trainer
"We knew Gavin was going to come in [to fight]. I wanted Adrien to take his time and pick his punches.
"He made mistakes and Adrien countered each mistake he made.
"Gavin was a great fighter for two rounds. I knew he was going to try his best to take Adrien out and Adrien capitalized on his mistakes and picked him apart.
"Believe it or not, you haven't seen the whole package deal. It's a secret that we behold in the gym."
GARY LOCKETT, Rees' Trainer
"I was going to pull him out in the fourth. I considered pulling him out after the third, but I knew he would say 'there is no way.'"
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV