By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Gary Lockett expects the fighter he trains to walk into Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night and accomplish what Lockett couldn’t.
Like Rees, Lockett was an unheralded underdog from Wales who came to Atlantic City in June 2008 to challenge an undefeated, undisputed champion from Ohio in an HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event.
Kelly Pavlik, then 33-0 and fresh off two victories over Jermain Taylor, pummeled Lockett on his way to a third-round technical knockout win nearly five years ago. But Lockett firmly believes Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) is more than capable of pulling off what would be considered an enormous upset against Adrien Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) in their 12-round fight for Broner’s WBC lightweight title (HBO; 10:30 p.m. ET/PT).
“I was a bigger puncher, but Gavin’s a better all-around fighter than I ever was,” said Lockett, 36, who retired after Pavlik beat him. “[Broner is] not unbeatable. He’s a very good fighter. He throws fantastic combinations and looks the [part]. He’s gotten the star treatment from [promoter Oscar] De La Hoya, but he has got the right fights at the right times. Gavin’s going to be a little bit different and show him things he hasn’t seen before.”
Rees credits Lockett with helping him turn around his career once Lockett began training him about 2½ years ago. Lockett wouldn’t tolerate Rees partying and eating fast food, and the 32-year-old Rees has benefited greatly from becoming more professional.
Rees also agrees with his trainer regarding comparisons to his fight against Cincinnati’s Broner and Lockett’s loss to Pavlik, a fight even Lockett acknowledged this week he thought he had little chance to win.
“I don’t think there’s no comparison,” Rees said. “[Lockett] always says he was going in there with a puncher’s chance. I believe I can go in there and win this fight, 100 percent.”
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.