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Kotelnik Stops Rees With Only Seconds Remaining

Andriy Kotelnik Gavin ReesBy Dan Ambrose: In one of the most heroic fights I’ve seen in some time, WBA light welterweight champion Gavin Rees (27-1, 13 KOs) fought bravely last night against the much harder punching Andreas Kotelnik (29-2-1, 13 KOs), fighting him literally tooth and nail before succumbing in the 12th round on what looked to be a premature stoppage by the referee. However, despite losing the fight to Kotelnik, Rees looked incredibly good, nothing like the club fighter that many fans have been calling him in recent weeks. Not only did Rees dominate most of the first half of the fight, overwhelming Kotelnik with volume punching, but he also showed incredible heart in the second half of the fight when Kotelnik’s greater power begin to become a factor in the bout.

Urged on by Enzo Calzaghe, Rees kept coming forward, throwing double hooks to the body and short, fast combinations to the head. Unlike some of the scoring I’ve seen, I had Rees ahead at the time of the stoppage in the 12th round, and saw no reason for him to go all out in the 12th round, leaving himself open for Kotelnik’s shots. If not for Rees completely forgetting all about his defense in the 12th, he would never have walked into the two big right hands that hurt him in the round.

It was those punches that drove him back to the ropes, where Kotelnik added a few more shots before leaning on Rees and causing him to go down. After the action resumed, the referee quickly stopped the bout after a couple of meaningless punches from Kotelnik, which Rees took without any problems. More than being a little hurt, Rees was mostly just a tired at the time of the stoppage, which occurred at 2:34 of the 12th round, only 26 seconds remaining in the round.

Rees looked quite impressive in rounds one through three as he landed punches to the midsection and head of Kotelnik with great frequency. It wasn’t even close in the first three round due to Rees tremendous output. Kotelnik 30, only rarely three a punch, mostly just covering up and waiting out Rees’ frequent attacks. When Kotelnik would throw a shot, he’d land one or two hard punches and then cover up again. Certainly, Kotelnik was blocking some of the shots from Rees, but quite a few of Rees’ punches were getting around Kotelnik’s guard and landing to the side of his head or to his midsection. I disagree with what some people were saying about Kotelnik blocking most of Ree’s shots. That’s simply ridiculous because Rees was hitting him cleanly over and over again, and due to the massive amount of shots he was throwing, there was no way that Kotelnik could come close to stopping all of them.

Rees took a number of hard shots in the 4th round from Kotelnik, who came on late in the round as Rees seemed to tire out a little. However, for 2 ½ minutes of the round, Rees was hitting him at will, so it was hard for me to give the round to Kotelnik for this reason.

In the 5th round, Rees continued to look very strong as he unloaded a blizzard of punches in the round which Kotelnik could only block a hand full despite the fact that he spent the entire round with his hands glued to his face trying to cover up.

Rees seemed to tire in the sixth round as Kotelnik began to land some hard 1-2 combinations. The punches seemed to bother Rees a little. However, he continued landing frequently, though with lesser power. Rees started throwing short punches, hitting Kotelnik quickly with them.

In the 7th round, Rees came back looking strong as he landed well to the body of Kotelnik, and keeping him covering up to avoid getting hit. This was a clear round for Rees, for Kotelnik only landed a small number of hard shots and nothing comparable to the volume of punches that were being thrown by Rees.

Both fighters took turns dishing out punishment in rounds eight through ten. In particular, the 10th round was quite exciting as both fighters landed big shots. At this point, I had Rees narrowly a head by one round in the fight. He had been tiring but due to his early lead, he still was ahead in the fight, though Kotelnik was coming on.

In the 11th round, Rees came back strong, looking almost completely rejuvenated as he landed powerful shots to the midsection of Kotelnik and fast shots to the head. It was a clear round for Rees, who looked good going into the final round.

In between rounds, Rees’ trainer Enzo Calzaghe urged him, perhaps thinking that he was behind in the fight. Rees used his motivation to go all out in the 12th round, and simply forgot completely about defense as he went after Kotelnik. It looked as if Rees was on his way to winning the round when he suddenly took a couple of big right hands from Kotelnik. Rees was clearly hurt, but Kotelnik, instead of landing a finishing punch, he gave him a short push that sent Rees to the canvas. Upon getting up, Rees was met with a right hand from Kotelnik, at which point the referee jumped in and stopped the fight with only 26 seconds remaining in the fight. Rees looked fine, just a little hurt and appeared strong enough to finish the remaining seconds of the round. I thought Rees could have easily have finished the fight and been awarded the decision.

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