Sunday, February 17, 2013 1:32 am
Broner stops Rees to defend WBC lightweight title
The Associated Press
The WBC lightweight champion overcame Gavin Rees' aggressiveness and determination by stopping the Welshman in the fifth round before a roaring crowd of 4,812 at Boardwalk Hall.
"I knew he was coming to fight," Broner said. "He's a world-class fighter. I had to see how much gas was left in that Toyota. He kept coming and threw every shot like it was his best shot. I knew he would be tough. He's tougher than a steak that's well-done. When you have two world-class fighters going toe to toe it's going to be great fight."
Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) scored two knockdowns in the bout and ended the fight with a powerful left hook to the body that forced Rees (37-2-1, 19 KOs) to take a knee in the fifth.
Rees, a native of Newport, Wales, got to his feet, but Broner landed a series of body shots and combinations that drove Rees into a corner and prompted trainer Gary Lockett to wave a white towel. Referee Earl Brown halted the fight 2 minutes, 59 seconds into the round.
"I wanted to (stop the fight) after four rounds, but Gavin said no way he was quitting," Lockett said. "I also considered stopping it after the third, but Gavin is too proud."
Broner, a 23-year-old Cincinnati native, controlled most of the bout, but Rees didn't back down. The 32-year-old wasn't fazed by Broner's antics and continually pressed forward. At times, he even did a little clowning himself, which drew some cheers from the fans.
Broner scored his first knockdown in the fourth, catching Rees with one of his trademark right uppercuts that sent the Welshman to the canvas. Rees got up and endured a savage beating along the ropes just before the bell sounded to end the round.
"I'm disappointed in my performance," Rees said. "I made a lot of mistakes. I think I have a better skill set than that. He hits incredibly hard for a lightweight. I knew he hit hard, but the power just stunned me. But I disagree with my trainer stopping it. I was always going to get back up. I was going to get keep getting up until I got knocked out cold. I disagree with my trainer stopping it. I was always going to get back up. He's the best I've ever been in with."
Both fighters weighed 150 pounds on HBO's unofficial scales on Saturday after making the 135-pound lightweight limit Friday afternoon. Broner weighed 134 and Rees checked in at 134 1/2.
Broner wore a microphone and joined in a rap song on his way to the ring.
In the co-feature, Australian super-middleweight Sakio Bika (31-5-2, 21 KOs) earned another shot at unified champion Andre Ward (20-0, 16 KOs) by earning a 12-round, unanimous decision over Montenegro's Nikola Sjekloca (25-1, 7 KOs). Ward beat Bika via decision three years ago.
"I had a great plan and worked hard," Bika said. "I give (Sjekloca a lot of credit). He was undefeated and came to fight. It was a great opportunity for me. Now I want to fight all the great fighters - Lucian Bute, Andre Ward, all of them."