by Cliff Rold
Anyone who scratches their head reading the bizarre tweets of Adrien Broner gets a guaranteed respite this Saturday. For the first time since a scintillating thrashing of Antonio DeMarco in November, the talented Lightweight titlist is back in the ring.
Will it be a fight or an appearance?
Given the relative lack of depth in the Lightweight division, existing before Broner got there and bettered only by one since his arrival, fans may have little more to look forward to than the latter for the foreseeable future. So far, appearances have been enough to begin building an audience for the audacious Cincinnati native.
Aaron Pryor had “Hawk Time.” Broner has twitter (and some whack attempts at rhyming on HBO air last year). Times change. Whatever it is in the waters of Cincinnati that gives boxing colorful characters remains the same.
Keep winning, and Broner may even yet prove that they make them like they used to.
Let’s go to the report cards.
Title: WBC Lightweight (2012-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBO Super Featherweight (2011-Present, 1 Defense)
Weight: 134 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 131 lbs.
Hails from: Cincinnati, Ohio
Record: 25-0, 21 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 3 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 2 (Daniel Ponce De Leon UD10, Antonio DeMarco TKO8)
Previous Titles: WBA Light Welterweight (2007-08)
Weight: 134.5 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 134.2 lbs.
Hails from: Newbridge, Wales, United Kingdom
Record: 37-1-1, 18 KO, 1 KOBY
BoxingScene Rank: #8 at Lightweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1, 1 KOBY
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 2 (Souleymane M’baye UD12, Andriy Kotelnik KOBY12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Broner A; Rees B
Pre-Fight: Power – Broner A; Rees B
Pre-Fight: Defense –Broner B+; Rees C
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Broner A; Rees B+
Rees, competing at Lightweight since 2010, has posted a mark of 10-0-1 since his lone career loss for a 140 lb. title in 2008 to earn this crack at Broner’s newly minted Lightweight strap. Not widely known on this side of the Atlantic, Rees has been unfairly derided in some circles as a Broner opponent.
No one thinks he can win.
Given that Broner would be a sizable favorite over everyone at 135 lbs. right now, it’s a hollow complaint. The next two best fighters at Lightweight, Ricky Burns and Miguel Vazquez, are fighting each other in a unification fight next month. Potential contenders Richard Abril and Sharif Bogere are facing off for a vacant belt next month as well.
Rees is a legitimate top ten fighter at Lightweight. Not being favored doesn’t make it a bad fight. Entertainment wise, it might turn out to be pretty good. Rees makes good fights.
Stout and pressuring, Rees isn’t super fast and doesn’t knock too many guys flat but he’s got a decent skill set. His jab, particularly to the chest, is effective and he can utilize deceptive head movement to work his way in behind it. His power shots are short and clubbing and he forces opponents to work.
Forcing Broner to work might work against Rees. Rees might have deceptive head movement, but he doesn’t employ it when throwing. He’ll be wide open for counter hooks and short, whipping rights at the end of flurries if Broner’s defense is timed right.
Broner’s defense is the part of his game still the most work in progress. It’s clearly good but his offense is still better. Broner is far from unhittable, even if he’s still difficult to touch consistently. He can be caught relaxed and open for straight right hands, as DeMarco was able to do on occasion.
For Rees to have a shot, he’s going to have to find a range where he can avoid the counters and pile on enough pressure to limit Broner’s output. If he can do that for twelve rounds, the chance to outwork Broner for a decision exists but it counts on Broner’s offense getting sloppy.
It’s a long shot. Before Rees can get close, he’ll have to get past Broner’s jab and quick lead shots. He might do it for a little while. Twelve rounds is a lot to ask.
This fight looks like a forgone conclusion because, well, it probably is. Broner is quicker, younger, has less wear on his tires, and despite the knock of not facing much quality opposition has probably already beat better fighters in his short career than Rees has in his longer one. This is a match of a good, honest fighter versus an honest to goodness talent. The last time Rees was in with anything close to Broner, Kotelnik solved him and put him away. Kotelnik was an excellent professional full of refined skill.
Broner’s talent, and notable work ethic, is making him more refined by the round. This looks like an appearance, will play out as a showcase, and likely end with a stoppage sometime between the sixth and eighth rounds.
Report Card Picks 2013: 3-1
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transanational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org