Boxing


Former WBA 140-Pound Champ Gavin Rees Wins Vacant British Lightweight Title In Thriller With John Watson

By James Slater - Last night in Newport, Wales, 30-year-old former WBA light-welterweight champion Gavin Rees, now campaigning as a lightweight, won the vacant British title at 135-pounds, by halting a brave and previously unbeaten John Watson. The Welshman, now 7-0(3) since losing his WBA belt to Andriy Kotelnik in March of 2008, turned the fight around with a heavy knockdown in the 10th and got the stoppage at 1-minute and 13-seconds of the 11th-round.

Rees is now 34-1(16) overall. 27-year-old Watson of Liverpool is now 13-1(5)..

A terrific battle, last night’s fight looked like being a veritable blow out win for Rees in the early going. In fact, for the first four-rounds the fight was one-way traffic. The short but very effective Rees took the fight right to the younger, taller man and bullied him relentlessly. Looking for all the world like a fighter who had frozen, Watson failed to win any of the opening four, maybe even five, maybe even six-rounds.

“The Rock,” as Rees is known, held his hands low in a confident, even arrogant manner, and he caught the younger, less experienced man with lefts and rights to the head as well as landing body shots. Had the big opportunity come too soon for the man with just 13 pro fights to his name? It looked like it.

The 5th saw a little twist in the plot, as Watson stood his ground for a spell and showed what he could do when he was willing to. There was a good exchange at the end of the round; Watson’s best yet.

“He’s blowing,” Dave Coldwell, Watson’s trainer said during the interval between rounds five and six. “that was our round.”

Maybe it was, but Sky commentator Jim Watt, the former world champ at lightweight, gave Rees all six of the opening rounds on his unofficial scorecard.

But the 6th did see Watson claim the centre of the ring more, and though Rees was still way more aggressive the fight was now at least a competitive one. And there was more drama to come.

The two traded right hands to the head in the 7th, and Rees came off worst, his nose bleeding badly. The nose looked to be broken, but the tough Welshman fired back at his rival. Then, looking a touch busted up, Rees was under fire and hurt by a body shot. The fight had enjoyed its first big turnaround.

“That’s the first round you’ve lost,” Gary Lockett, trainer of Rees told his man at the end of the 7th.

In the 8th it looked like it was a case of who wanted it more. Both men landed good shots, but in the last few seconds of the session, Watson teed off on the former WBA champion as he was stuck on the ropes, landing to head and body. Rees looked tired at the bell.

A left hand to the body hurt Rees in the 9th, but still he came forward, taking the fight to the younger man. Watson was beginning to look like the boss in the 10th, though - even if “The Rock” was still dangerous. Watson even found the time to do a little bit of showboating whilst in a clinch in the round. But then, making him pay for his overconfidence, Rees decked Watson with a chopping right hand to the side of the head. Watson hit the mat hard and was on unsteady legs as he beat the count. Rees went for the finish, but the bell was only seconds away.

Resuming his attack in the 11th, Rees got what he was looking for. Watson was hurt and holding on, and the local man would not be denied. A big right snapped the co-challenger’s head back as he was on the ropes, and Watson then reeled around the ring before being pinned on the other side of the squared circle. A final assault from Rees convinced referee Victor Loughlin to dive in and stop the fight.

A great little battle that deserves, as co-commentator Adam Smith said, to be considered as The domestic Fight of The Year, Rees Vs. Watson delivered some incredible action.

“It took everything out of me,” a victorious but spent Rees said post-fight.

Would the two men like a rematch though?

“No!” Rees said with a laugh. “Definitely,” Watson replied.

The fans would have no problems with seeing a part-two of what they were witness to last night in Wales!

Article posted on 07.11.2010



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