By Keith Idec
Adrien Broner is in no hurry to leave a 135-pound division devoid of appealing opponents.
The gifted Cincinnati native made it clear on a conference call that his Feb. 16 fight against Gavin Rees will be far from his last at lightweight. The WBC lightweight champion emphasized that he’ll consider moving up to 140 pounds at his own pace and won’t react to external pressure to seek more attractive alternatives at junior welterweight, despite that he completely dismantled Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco in his first lightweight fight.
“That’s what everybody wants me to do,” Broner said. “They just seen me dominate and put on a great performance, a hell of a performance that I still think I’m getting downgraded on my performance. He was a world champion, DeMarco. And they want me to just automatically go up to 140. No. I chose to move up to this weight. I still make the weight eating steak and potatoes every night in training camp. I make the weight comfortable, so I’m going to stay here.”
DeMarco (28-3-1, 21 KOs) was generally regarded as one of boxing’s top two lightweights when Broner bombarded him en route to an eighth-round stoppage Nov. 17 in Atlantic City. Broner’s representatives at Golden Boy Promotions attempted to secure Scotland’s Ricky Burns as Broner’s foe for this Feb. 16 fight, but Burns (35-2, 10 KOs) priced himself out of the bout by requesting a seven-figure purse.
Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) would’ve been heavily favored over Burns as well, but the 32-year-old Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) is considered an even bigger underdog than Burns. If Broner beats Rees, a former WBA 140-pound title-holder, and Burns isn’t an option for his next lightweight fight, there seemingly are few reasons for Broner to remain at lightweight.
The 23-year-old Broner disagrees, though he didn’t mention any potential opponents at lightweight after Rees.
“There’s a lot of good fights that I still could have at 135 pounds,” Broner said. “So I’m going to flush out this lightweight division and then we can go up to the light welterweights and crush their dreams. So we’re going to stay here for a while.”
The 12-round Broner-Rees fight will headline an HBO “World Championship Boxing” doubleheader from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The telecast will begin with a heavyweight rematch between Detroit’s Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) and Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs), a Brandywine, Md., native Banks stopped in the second round of their Nov. 17 fight in Atlantic City.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.