By Terence Dooley
Gavin Rees’ fight against domestic rival - and former British champion - John Murray is not a done deal, according to Frank Warren Promotions.
Eddie Hearn today announced that the fight is in the works for December 8 pending the "blessing" of Murray's promoter Frank Warren, whose office informed Boxingscene.com that terms for the bout have not yet been reached.
There could be a further problem; Martin Gethin is the mandatory challenger for the British title, which Sky - and many other publications - have mistakenly assumed would be on the line should the two fight.
Indeed, the purse bids for Rees-Gethin are expected to go before the Board on November 17. Gethin would have to agree to step aside to allow Murray another crack at his former belt. Rees’ team would then have to put in a request for a voluntary defence, which means that Sky jumped the gun when announcing the mooted fight as a “British title defence."
Alternatively, the BBBoC may have allow Rees to make an immediate voluntary defence of the title he took from Derry Mathews in July. If this is not the case, then the champion is bound to the Gethin fight. Once the Board sends a fight out to purse bids, it is binding on both fighters and the champion has to relinquish his belt to take a different contest.
Rees is ranked at number two by the WBA yet has been unable to secure a showdown with Richard Abril for the vacant belt.
“The WBA ruling states the number one must fight the number two for a vacant title," said Eddie Hearn when speaking to Sky Sports. “We were asked to make the fight with Richard Abril for the vacant WBA title, since then Abril has agreed to fight Sharif Bogere later this year. We and our legal advisers believe that fight cannot take place for the WBA title and our advisers are in contact with the WBA to assure them Gavin is very much available to fight for the title.
“Whatever happens Gavin will be in a top fight (on December 8) which will be announced this week. We've agreed terms with John Murray — great money for them and no options — and we await the 'blessing' of Frank Warren for them to take that fight, which we hope will happen in the next few days.
“If not there's other big domestic fights out there, Kevin Mitchell is interested in the fight, Anthony Crolla, Gary Sykes, but for us we're number two in the WBA and we want to move forward for a world title fight.”
Hearn, though, clarified the British title situation when speaking to BoxingScene.
“It is not necessarily for the British title,” he said. “Gavin is currently British champion, number two in the WBA and there’s all types of belts they can fight for. John Murray and (his manager) Michael Marsden are happy with the offer and want the fight — it is up to Frank now. We haven’t applied to the Board for a voluntary defence, no, so if we did and they said no we’d vacate the title and go for another title for the fight.”
Murray (31-2, 18KO), has not fought since losing to Brandon Rios by 11th-round TKO for the WBA belt in December of last year, prior to that he was stopped in eight by Kevin Mitchell.
The tough Mancunian has also held the EBU lightweight belt and a fight with Rees (37-1-1, 18KO), would excite British fans .However, there might be a few issues to iron out if the two are to meet on December 8.
Please send news and views to email@example.com or Twitter @Terryboxing