By Frank Warren
The US fight fraternity – desperate for a fresh hero to follow as Floyd Mayweather winds down his career – are already hailing smack-talking WBC lightweight king Adrien Broner as the saviour of the sport.
I'll politely reserve judgement until I've seen a little more of the gregarious showman who bills himself as 'The Problem'. Broner certainly has a colourful story. He first laced up at the age of seven and honed his craft in almost 300 amateur bouts. However, his 2008 Olympic aspirations were scuppered when he served a year on remand, accused of robbery and assault. He was again arrested in 2010 for 'purse snatching' but those charges were dropped. Already a father of five at just 23, he has boldly tweeted live sex sessions!
An incorrigible show boater and trash talker, he treats ring opponents with hardly any respect. For the final defence of his WBO super-featherweight strap, he weighed–in an outrageous 3 ½ lbs above the 130lb limit; a transgression that cost him his title and a $60,000 fine.
Broner certainly has a flair for self-promotion – no bad thing in this game. Already he has declared himself the best fighter ever to emerge from 'Cincy', a city that reared ring legends Ezzard Charles and Aaron Pryor. He refuses to conduct post-fight interviews until his comical father has groomed his hair, mid ring!
The only thing faster than Broner's trigger tongue might be his blazing fists. The Ohioan has extra terrestrial natural talent, bewildering punch variety and, having beaten 21 of his 25 victims inside the scheduled distance, is blessed with seriously concussive power.
His chin is yet to be seriously tested but his stocky 5ft 7in frame certainly has a compact look about it. With industry powerbrokers HBO, Golden Boy Promotions and manager Al Haymon covering his back, 'The Problem' is a formidable force.
The rising star has been extended beyond round eight on just one occasion and that is unlikely to be repeated when he makes the maiden defence of his belt against plucky Welshman Gavin Rees in Atlantic City this evening. 'The Rock', from Newbridge, Gwent, has been beaten just once in a 39 fight pro career which began in September 1998. During his time with me, he even held the WBA world title up at light-welter for ten months. More recently, he has claimed British and European titles at lightweight.
In his prime, Rees was a tenacious little terrier with a formidable punch output, a deceptive jab and the precise timing that can offset superior speed. He has triumphed previously in title fights, both overseas and as a big underdog.
For the past five weeks, he has been holed up in New York, away from the distractions of the valleys, which have compromised him in the past. Coached by Gary Lockett, one of the brightest in the business, Rees is rumoured to be physically tip top and oozing confidence.
Alas, I fear it is misplaced. Now 32, his best days are consigned to history. Just 5ft 4in on his tip toes, he lacks the size and power to spring what would be a phenomenal upset.
Gavin is brave beyond belief but that, coupled with Broner's accuracy and spitefulness, will probably result in a painful beating that will significantly shorten, possibly even terminate, his career. I only hope he is getting handsomely rewarded.
Broner against WBO champion Ricky Burns is an entirely different proposition, however. At 29, the Scot is at his absolute peak and would dwarf Broner, as Broner dwarfs Rees. He has confronted and mastered far stiffer opposition to the Yank and, unlike Broner, Burns is hardened over the full 12 round championship trip.
If, as I expect, Ricky prevails in his pending tough unification bout against Mexico's IBF box Miguel Vasquez at Wembley Arena on 16th March, I'll be uprooting trees to broker a GB-USA super fight to determine top dog at 135lbs before the year is through and I'll be backing Ricky, no 'Problem'.
The Repton Boxing Club from Bethnal Green in the heart of London's East End has proved a conveyor belt for Champions since its inception in 1884.
Future professional world title holders John H Stracey, Maurice Hope and Leslie Stewart all passed through the Cheshire Street gym and perhaps more shall soon follow.
A record 13 youngsters from the club have qualified for the National Schoolboy semi-finals, to be held in Portsmouth this weekend. Could they be set to smash their own record of seven champions from one club, when the finals are held in Merseyside next month?
The writer Jonathan Rendall, famous for his award-winning boxing book This Bloody Mary Is The Last Thing I Own, passed away recently aged 48.
He was an oddball character who tended to over fantasize in his stories and life.
In the book mentioned above, he said that Frank Bruno had attacked him in a bar in a Las Vegas hotel. I was there and that's not what happened. Rendall, who liked a drink, had a few too many and was making a nuisance of himself and was rude to Bruno. I had to step in before it got nasty.
He also fancied himself as a boxing manager and briefly looked after Colin McMillan, the former British, Commonwealth and WBO World Featherweight Champion, who I promoted.
After he won the world title against Maurizio Stecca, Rendall and McMillan decided to defend against the dangerous Colombian Ruben Palacios - a fight which I was against making. McMillan's dislocated his shoulder in the eighth round and was unable to continue, losing the title, and then failing to regain it against Steve Robinson in his next fight.
Brit basher Michael Katsidis is set to retire from boxing.
I brought the Aussie warrior over three times and he was a favourite with the fans for his all-action style and twice he beat my guys in world title fights. He stopped Graham Earl in a barnstormer at Wembley Arena in 2007, climbing off the canvas to halt him in five, then he knocked-out Kevin Mitchell in three rounds at West Ham three years later.
It took current WBO World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns to halt the big-hitter in November 2011, taming the Thunder From Down Under over twelve rounds. It looks like he'll still stay in boxing by doing TV commentary work and also as a manager.