Kotelnik Batters Rees To Defeat With 12th Round Stoppage!

Andreas Kotelnikby James Slater: Tonight, at The Cardiff International Arena, Wales, defending WBA light-welterweight champion Gavin Rees lost his title in his very first defence, as he was stopped by his Ukrainian born mandatory challenger Andreas Kotelnik at the tail end of the twelfth and final round. The time was two minutes and thirty-four seconds.

In truth, Rees was outclassed pretty much throughout by the 30-year-old Kotelnik, who boxed a smart fight all the way. Rees was aggressive as always, but he took way too many punches, a lot of them counters, from the challenger. Standing only 5'3," the defending champion was caught as he came forward, or at other times, as he retreated. His defence quite appalling at times, the brave yet easy to hit 27-year-old did well to last as long as he did..

This writer only gave Rees three rounds, with one even, and it was pretty clear from the middle rounds on that Rees needed something big to hold onto his WBA crown. The fight was good to watch, with all-out aggression and some decent body punching by Rees and smartly adopted countering tactics from Kotelnik. But the Welshman was exposed quite alarmingly over the fight's duration as being anything but world class - in every department other than heart anyway.

His face beginning to mark up by the halfway stage and his nose bleeding also, Rees was shipping a serious amount of punishment. The end almost came in round number eight, as a painful left hand to the defending champion's body nearly made the younger man cave in. Rees held on, showing plenty of grit, but by this stage the writing was very much on the cards. Rees needed a stoppage to hold onto his title. Alas, it was Kotelnik who got the stoppage.

Going into the final round, being told he needed to work for the full three minutes if he wanted to keep his belt, Rees gave it his all. Once again, however, this aggression led to his being hit often. A big right hand badly stunned the champion and Kotelnik went for the finish. Rees, very much out on his feet, stumbled to the canvas but no knockdown was scored. But upon getting back to his feet the out of it Rees was soon stopped as referee Luis Pabon dived in to save him from further punishment. It was a good stoppage.

It seems, then, that a world title did come too soon in the career of the still raw Gavin Rees. His guts were never in question, though, and in time he may well figure at top level again. As for the new champion, Andreas Kotelnik, he put on something of a master class at times tonight, and lucrative fights with the likes of Junior Witter (in a rematch) Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan await.

Kotelnik improved to 29-2-1(13). The beaten Rees fell to 27-1(13).

Article posted on 23.03.2008

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