Gavin Rees says he is hungrier than ever as he faces Derry Mathews in his first defence of the European Lightweight title on Saturday night at the Newport Centre, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1 from 8pm – knowing a win can bring him one step closer to his two-weight World champion dream.
Rees won the World Boxing Association (WBA) Light-Welterweight World crown in 2007 and believes that four years later, he is in prime condition to get another World title shot at Lightweight but after beating Mathews, he is eyeing up another all-British clash.
“I don’t mind who I have to fight to win a World title,” said Rees. “But I’d love a fight with Kevin Mitchell too. It’s a fight that I think I’d win but it’d be a cracker and one that fight fans and Sky Sports would love to see.”
Before a World title shot though, there’s the small matter of Saturday’s Wales v England battle, as Mathews steps into the ring with a top class opponent over 12 rounds for the first time since coming back from retirement.
“I would never look beyond my next fight and what is in front of me, and I know that Derry is a hungry fighter and one that will give everything against me,” said Rees. “He’s come back from a little break and is on a nice run of wins after moving up to Lightweight.
“A break does you good sometimes. When you have been training hard every week 10 years or so, you probably need time off just to rediscover your love for it. Since Derry’s come back from his break he’s had five or six wins all through stoppages so it’s going to be a great fight.”
Things have got heated on Twitter and Facebook, with Rees on the receiving end from some of Mathews’ fans but the Welshman laughed off suggestions that those taunts have got under his skin, and predicted that the Liverpool fighter will suffer the sixth knockout of his career.
“He’ll be in there on his own in on Saturday so we’ll see then,” said Rees. “He’s four fights unbeaten now which people make a big deal out of, so if I make a statement against him then it’s good for me. I’ve had eight weeks of excellent training, he’s getting knocked out for the sixth time and we both know it. His last opponent Stephen Jennings had only five fights under his belt and it was his first fight over six rounds – he’s a novice and nowhere near my level so his last win is not even a factor.”
Rees’ last opponent was Andy Murray, the Irishman who travelled to Cardiff to face Rees for the vacant European strap. The victory never looked beyond doubt after the opening rounds, but Rees seemed to tire in the mid-section of the fight, and despite a strong finish, the old questions of conditioning were raised – Rees was quick to respond when they were put to him again.
“I got a bit tired towards the end but that’s been rectified and I’m in perfect shape now,” said Rees. “Training has been great and I’ve worked hard on my diet and condition as well. Sparring with Ricky Burns and Frankie Gavin is perfect preparation for any fight. You have to travel about a bit to get some different sparring as I’ve had it all my own way in Wales really, but it’s been worth it.”
The 31 year-old talks with new found vigour about the path ahead and believes it all began with making the decision to team up with new trainer Gary Lockett. The former WBU Middleweight champion unveiled a secret weapon in getting Rees in perfect shape for Saturday and beyond – a former Mister Wales winner.
“We bought in an old friend in Renzo Algieri who is a former Mr Wales from back in the 90s with a bodybuilding background,” said Lockett. “He knows everything there is to know about nutrition and diet and it’s worked a treat. When Gavin checked weighed-in a week ago he had to get back on the scales because he thought they were lying to him!
“There have been problems in the past with his diet, but I don’t really blame Gavin for that. When you have been doing something for really wrong so long, then it becomes embedded in you. When he joined me I couldn’t just give him a crash course in how to do things right. The diet was the last thing we worked on but when someone has been boiling the weight off the old fashioned way for years, and they start having a new routine, as soon as the weight doesn’t shift they revert back to the old ways, and that’s exactly what happened against Andy Murray.
“People keep going on that he died after six rounds and that he needs to be fitter – what do they think we are doing? I’ve been there in 12 rounders and I know what it takes to be strong over that distance, so it was nothing to do with fitness, all to do with diet. What he did the day before the weigh-in to make the weight was ridiculous and the fact he went 12 rounds is a testament to his strength, his condition and his desire for the sport. Normally, a fight with Andy I’d expect him to win it in three or four rounds, but he had to go 12 rounds because he killed himself so badly to make the weight.”
Rees calls joining up with Lockett “a second life” and explained that it’s through his hard work and teaming up with Gary and Matchroom Sport that he is taking another step closer to his two-weight dream on Saturday.
“After my World Title loss I had a year’s break,” said Rees. “The Calzaghe camp went a bit pear-shaped, I sorted things out, came back and won Prizefighter. I joined up with Matchroom Sport, won the British and European, and now things are looking good for another World title crack.
“Matchroom have got a great stable coming on, there are big names with young hot prospects too, it’s the best promotional outfit in Britain and it’s great to be a part of it.
“When I came back and won Prizefighter it seemed a bit easy really, I didn’t really train for it and I was at 10st 3lb, nice and comfy. From that point on I realised that it was a massive springboard and I started to knuckle down, train harder, eat right and make things happen – that’s why Saturday is such a big night.”
For ticket information please contact Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.
Darren Hamilton: I’m Fighting For Redemption, Not The Money
With all the controversy surrounding the recent Victor Ortiz – Floyd Mayweather jnr. fight many London fans may be a little confused to why Ortiz only received the penalty of a single point deduction – and a dubious sucker punch KO for his efforts – whilst back at York Hall in June Darren Hamilton was not just disqualified, but also fined and suspended, for an almost identical action against Dave Ryan.
Like Ortiz, Hamilton accepted the result without argument. In fact the likable Bristol born fighter, now residing in London, has spent a lot of time soul searching and bridge mending, as he is keen to make amends before the pair once again face each other, for The British Master Light Welterweight title, a second time on the Spencer Fearon Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions ‘This is Hard Knocks’ show at York Hall in London on Friday, 7th October.
Hamilton’s determination to make amends, for that red mist moment, became clear when he spoke earlier today, “I’m fighting for redemption, not the money, he’s fighting for the money.
Basically Dave Ryan has asked for more money to fight me again, myself personally I’m completely not interested in the money.
You wouldn’t believe what I actually went through. On the night I didn’t realise the seriousness of what I did.
Afterwards I soon found out. Not only couldn’t I box for twenty eight days, because the British Boxing Board of Control suspended me, but I also had to pay a fine to the BBBofC.
I was getting abuse from his fans. My girlfriend, who was at the fight at the time, she was getting abuse as well from his fans. Some of it I heard, it was racial abuse.
Since then I’ve also been getting abuse on the internet from his fans, which I may not like but do understand.
I let Spencer (promoter Spencer Fearon) down, I let the fans down and I let myself down, something I am really sorry for.
It’s put me in a position, like where I was before, where I have to prove myself again like I did against Ideh Ochuku, after being knocked out by Daryl Setterfield, and the time they said I didn’t have a chance against Peter McDonagh, where I was the complete underdog.
I’ve gone right back to that hunger again, this is it again right now. I am completely solemn and completely dedicated to winning this fight. My head is completely on it, it’s all I’ve been thinking about, you know.”
Darren Hamilton versus Dave Ryan, for the British Masters Light Welterweight title, will take place at the Hard Knocks Boxing Promotions ‘This Is Hard Knocks’ event, which will be headlined by Choi Tseveenpürev, at York Hall, Bethnal Green, on Friday 7th October 2011 and broadcast live on Premier Sports (Sky channel 433).
Tickets for ‘This Is Hard Knocks’ – priced £35 (Unreserved) and £60 (Ringside), are available now on-line at www.tkoboxoffice.com or in person at The TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, Gillian House, Stephenson Street, Canning Town, London E16 4SA. For further information please call 07960 850645.
Undefeated prospect Lionell Thompson added to Oct. 22 McGuinness-Gaudet undercard
TORONTO (September 28, 2011) – Unbeaten light heavyweight prospect Lionell “Lonnie B” Thompson has been added to the Logan Cotton McGuinness vs. Benoit Gaudetundercard, presented by Hennessy Sports in association with Interbox and United Promotions, on Saturday night, October 22 at The Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
The 26-year-old Thompson (9-0, 6 KOs), fighting out of Buffalo, was a standout amateur who was rated as high as No. 2 in the country. A five-time New York Golden Glove and three-time Empire State champion, “Lonnie B” turned pro in 2009 but his career was kick-started last November, when he signed with manager, Tim Ziccardi, and added former world light middleweight title challenger Ross “The Boss” Thompson (no relations) to his corner as chief second.
“We have very high hopes for Lionell,”promoter Adam Harris (Hennessy Sports) said. “He’s a solid boxer-puncher who lives in the gym. Nobody works harder than this kid and he now has a great team behind him in Tim and Ross. His addition to an already great boxing card insures that it’ll be a night to remember for boxing fans.”
Since teaming-up with Ziccardi and Thompson, Lionell is 5-0 with four knockouts. “I’ve known Lionell since he was 16,” Ziccardi remarked. “I’ve always respected him as a person and fighter. We agreed to do this at the highest level and to fight often. He’s already had five fights this year, not including his Oct. 22 fight, and he had one scheduled bout fall-out the day of the fight back in January. His boxing IQ and talent levels are higher than most and his work effort is the highest. He went running after his fight against Angel Gonzalez. Sometimes, Ross has to take his gym bag away, but he still shows up at the gym (Ross Thompson Gym in Buffalo).
“Boxing isn’t a sport to him; it’s a lifestyle. He eats clean and Friday and Saturday nights he’s watching boxing, not going out. He prides himself as a throwback fighter who is always ready to fight. Lionell Thompson was born to box.”
Thompson will fight Oct. 22 in a six-round fight against an opponent to be determined.
McGuinness (15-0-1, 7 KOs), presently rated No. 11 by the World Boxing Association (“WBA”), is the reigning North American Boxing Association (“NABA”) Lightweight Champion, but the Orangeville, Ontario native will abdicate his belt in order to fight Gaudet for the vacant NABA super featherweight title in the main event.
Former world title challenger Gaudet (24-2, 10 KOs) is a former NABA super featherweight title-holder. The Quebec boxer Gaudet was stopped by defending champion Humberto Soto in their 2009 World Boxing Council (“WBC”) super featherweight championship match, which was the co-feature on the Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton mega-fight card.
Unbeaten Columbian welterweight Samuel Vargas (7-0-1, 1 KO), fighting out of Mississauga, Ontario, takes on outspoken Montreal favorite Ahmad Cheikho (6-3-2, 5 KOs) in the 8/10-round co-feature.
In a six-round bout, former Canadian amateur standout Ibrahim “Firearm” Kamal (5-0, 4 KOs) puts his perfect record on the line against TBA, while a pair of Ontario lightweights – Jeremy Abbott (2-2, 1 KO) and Harrison McBain (3-3-1) – face each other in an expected 4/6 round brawl.
Also fighting on the undercard in four-round bouts are Ontario fighters Dillon Carman(1-0), a heavyweight prospect, light middleweight Brandon “Bad Boy” Cook(2-00, 1 KO), and super featherweight Natasha Spence (2-0-1, 2 KOs). All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets, starting at $30.00, may be purchased at the Hersey Centre Box Office, through Ticketmaster at (855) 985-5000 or ticketmaster.ca.
Go on line at www.HennessySports.comfor more information McGuinness and the Oct. 22 show.