Last night’s HBO main event between Adrien Broner and Gavin Rees was deemed a mismatch and that soon became clear with Broner needing just just five rounds to overwhelm the much smaller Rees in route to a TKO stoppage.
Maybe the 80-1 odds against Rees were a little harsh, but once Broner found Rees’s rhythm in the third it was just a matter of time. Nonetheless, Rees made good on a few of his prefight predictions and showed why we shouldn’t think Broner will just waltz to the top of the Pound4Pound rankings.
REES’S GAME PLAN AND CRITIQUES: Gavin Rees said beforehand that Broner’s recent record was made up mostly of guys who stood in front of him flat-footed. Rees showed the success a fighter he can have when they give Broner angles. Rees used upper body movement in the first two rounds to evade Broner’s shots while ripping his own to the body. In addition, he reminded everyone that timing works just as good as speed when he was able to punch with Broner to land left hooks.
Unfortunately, it was a game plan that Rees just didn’t have the physical dimensions or skill to keep up for long. Broner started to time Rees with his own left hook and head-jarring lead right potshots. The gulf in punching power was massive as Rees’s shots seemed to do little more then annoy while Broner’s clean shots to the body and head had a visible damaging effect.
Two big knockdowns off a right uppercut and the other from a slashing left hook to the body had Rees reduced to hapless displays of taunting bravado by the fifth round. His trainer Gary Lockett rightly threw in the towel to end the beating, and Rees had high praise for the man he previously called an “arrogant prick.”
“He’s [Broner] the best I have ever been in [the ring] with,” said Rees. ‘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.”
BRONER’S QUESTION MARKS: Broner looked to be two weight classes bigger than Rees last night so it stands to believe his days at lightweight are numbered. Once he moves up to 140, here are the questions that we need to see answered.
1. Fighters His Size. Broner has proven to be a legit puncher at lightweight, but will it translate on fighters he doesn’t have a distinct weight advantage over?
2. Dealing with Speed and Pressure. Broner has destroyed the pressure fighters he’s faced thus far at lightweight. Rees correctly pointed out they simply came at him head-first. At 140 there are pressure fighters who are much more craftier in their attacks in addition to possessing heavy hands. Guys like Lucas Matthysse and Brandon Rios would connect just as Rees as able to do. Does Broner’s chin hold up? Would Broner be able to outbox a guy like Lamont Peterson, who would keep coming all night?
On the speed end, the guy that stands out who could match Broner at 140 is Amir Khan. Rees over those first two rounds made Broner reach with his punches. Unfortunately, Rees’s short reach prevented him from really being able to counter. How Broner’s defense holds up under faster hands would be intriguing.
BRONER’S LAST LIGHTWEIGHT BUSINESS: Before leaving the lightweight division, Adrien Broner has one more assignment. The WBO (Ricky Burns) and IBF titlists (Miguel Angel Vazquez) will face off to unify their belts on March 16. With the WBA strap being vacant, the winner of that matchup should be Broner’s #1 target by the summer. Either one is a tough assignment (with Vazquez maybe being a bit trickier because of his running tendencies). Burns is the favorite to beat Vazquez, but let Broner tell it at last night’s post-fight press conference, Burns is another night of easy work.
“If I fought Ricky Burns, he would get burnt out,” he boasted. “I want to fight him, but if he doesn’t want to fight me. Oh well.”
Broner made an offer to Burns to be last night’s opponent, but the low money made little sense considering Burns has a considerably bigger fanbase in the UK. We’ll see how much money becomes an issue in sealing this one should Burns get by Vazquez.
BIKA DOMINATES: With new trainer Kevin Cunningham in his corner, a more patient Sakio Bika had an easy time outboxing (!) Nikola Sjekloca. Bika worked behind the jab and did his best work inside with vicious body shots. The issue was after about the sixth, you felt like Bika wasn’t upping his output to knock out Sjekloca. The crowd began to share those sentiments and boo despite the bout having solid to decent action in most rounds. Funnily enough, this fight has made Bika the #1 contender to Andre Ward’s title. Ward already holds a tough (but clear) victory over Sakio. I don’t think there’s any doubt that a rematch will not be happening. Whenever Bika gets his next title shot, it’ll be his fifth crack at a super-middleweight strap.
Let’s hear you thoughts. Are you convinced that Broner is a “problem” that no one at lightweight and junio welterweight will be able to solve?
FULL FIGHT LINK