GAVIN REES believes he is training harder for Friday’s Prizefighter Light-Welterweights event than when he was defending his World Championship. Rees, 29, clinched the WBA title in July 2007 but admits he was not totally dedicated and lost his first defence against Ukraine’s Andriy Kotelnik. “When I had the world title I was taking things for granted and didn’t think I could lose,” admitted Welshman Rees, who has only been beaten once in a 29-fight professional career. “Losing a world title is gutting for anyone but I wasn’t training or eating properly..
“I’m more hungry to win this than when I was defending a world title and I have a lot to prove to a lot of people.
“I’ve had a long time out of the ring and I’ve come back hungrier than I’ve ever been.
“The training is going great, I’ve been doing it for eight weeks and am very dedicated, as I should’ve been a few years ago.
“Since I’ve had a year out of the ring after losing the title, I now want to box 100 per cent.
“A lot of people see me as the favourite to win Prizefighter but we will see what happens.”
The eight-man, one-night Prizefighter Light-Welterweights tournament features a strong line-up with three former European Champions alongside Rees vying for the £32,000 top prize.
Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jnr performed the draw and gave Rees a tough task as he meets ex-European title holder Ted Bami in the quarter-finals.
However, Rees fully expects to win Prizefighter and has set his sights on fighting either undefeated British Lightweight Champion John Murray or Amir Khan, who currently holds the WBA Light-Welterweight title that Rees used to possess.
“I prefer to fight at lightweight but if there are big fights at light-welterweight then I will go for them,” added Rees.
“If a chance came to fight Amir Khan then I would love to. There was talk of me boxing him a few years ago but it never happened.
“Everyone knows as soon as he gets caught he will be knocked out and that’s why against Kotelnik, he ran around the ring.
“I’m fully confident of beating Khan as I would walk through has punches and catch him with some big shots.
“I fully expect to win Prizefighter. Bami has had better days years ago and he will be hoping he catches me with a lucky punch.
“After a year out my career seemed to be going dead but winning Prizefighter will revive my career. I want to be a winner again.”
Interview: Barrie Jones
BARRIE Jones has an added incentive to win Friday’s Prizefighter Light-Welterweights – family pride. Jones, 24, stepped into the Prizefighter line-up as a short-notice replacement after Barry Morrison had to withdraw due to illness. Three of the eight contenders – Jones, Gavin Rees and Jason Cook – are Welsh and Jones would love to fight Rees, a former WBA World Champion, in the final. “I’ve known Gavin and Jason for years and always watched them and respected them,” said Jones. “They’re good boys, have fought at a very high level and will be a tough fight for anyone.
“If you see someone like Gavin win a world title then you think you can do it as well. I won just as much as him in my amateur career and early on as a professional I was undefeated for a long time so it shows you can achieve anything.
“I never fought Gavin as an amateur but my brother Robert did. He lost to Gavin a couple of times but there wasn’t much in it.
“It was a long time ago but it would be nice to get one over Gavin so I can tease my brother.
“But I have to concentrate fully on my first fight and I can’t look past Young Muttley.
“Any fight is going to be hard but I know if I box to my ability then I can win Prizefighter quite comfortably but I have to turn up.”
Jones won his first 15 professional bouts but then suffered three successive defeats, including a loss against Kell Brook with the British Welterweight Championship on the line.
No Welsh fighter has ever won a Prizefighter contest with Darren Morgan (heavyweights one and two), Paul Samuels (middleweights), Shon Davies (light-heavyweights) and Scott Gammer (heavyweights 3) all failing at the quarter-final phase.
However, Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn believes that run will come to an end on Friday. He said: “This is Wales’ big chance to make a big noise in Prizefighter Light-Welterweights.
“With three Welsh fighters in the line-up, I would be astonished if at least one of them is not in the final and I wouldn’t be surprised if a Welshman wins it.
“We haven’t had a Welshman in the final before so national pride is at stake. One thing Gavin Rees, Jason Cook and Barrie Jones all have in common is they all have the heart and desire for a fight.”
Prizefighter Light-Welterweights takes place at London’s Olympia on Friday and tickets are still available. They cost £40 (unreserved) and £80 (reserved) and are available from See Tickets on 0870 903 9033, www.seetickets.com or from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900. All the action will also be screened live on Sky Sports.
The full list of competitors is: Ted Bami (Brixton, London), David Barnes (Manchester), Jason Cook (Maesteg, Wales), Michael Grant (Tottenham, London), Barry Jones (Ferndale, Wales), Colin Lynes (Hornchurch, Essex), Young Mutley (West Bromwich, West Midlands), Gavin Rees (Newbridge, Wales).
Friday, December 4
National Hall, Olympia, London
1. Michael Grant v Jason Cook
2. Ted Bami v Gavin Rees
3. Colin Lynes v David Barnes
4. Young Muttley v Barrie Jones
1. Michael Grant or Jason Cook v Ted Bami or Gavin Rees
2. Colin Lynes or David Barnes v Young Muttley or Barrie Jones
For more information about Prizefighter, visit www.prizefighter.co.uk
DJ SPOONY PUMPS UP PRIZEFIGHTER
DJ SPOONY will be performing in the build-up to Friday’s Prizefighter Light-Welterweights competition.
Spoony, who presents the popular 6-0-6 show on BBC Radio Five Live, is one of the best known DJs in Britain and has previously won a MOBO award.
He has presented both daytime and specialist shows on BBC Radio One, Kiss 100FM and the Galaxy FM network and has also presented popular Sky Sports programme Soccer AM.
It will be Spoony’s job to whip the crowd into a frenzy before and during what many experts believe could be the best Prizefighter yet.
“I’m a big fan of boxing and this is a fantastic event to be involved in – I’m looking forward to getting the crowd ready for an explosive night,” said Spoony.
“Cricket has 20/20, football has 5-a-side and now boxing has Prizefighter, it’s what everyone wants to see.”
Eddie Hearn, Managing Director of Matchroom Sport, added: “I remember Spoony calling me after the last Prizefighter telling me how much he loved the show and how the event had a totally different look and feel to traditional boxing.
“He wanted to be a part of the action and we are delighted to have him involved in the evening. Spoony is not just a great entertainer but a huge sports fan and when he is not spinning the decks he will be glued to the action on Friday night.”
The Prizefighter line-up is the strongest yet with a mix of former World, European and British Champions alongside young, talented prospects looking to cause upsets.