By Aaron Klein: WBA light welterweight champion Gavin Rees (27-0, 13 KOs) puts his unbeaten record on the line this Saturday night when he takes on Ukrainian challenger Andreas Kotelnik (28-2-1, 12 KOs) at the International Arena, Cardiff, in Wales. Other than the location of the fight, Kotelnik, ranked #1 in the WBA light welterweight division and considered to be the best non-champion in the division, figures to be highly favored in the bout. Not only is Kotelnik, 30, the taller fighter, but also the more vastly experienced fighter of the two, having faced fighters such as Junior Witter, Mohamad Abdulaev, Souleymane M’baye and William Gonzalez.
Whereas Rees, 27, has only faced Souleymane M’baye, whom he beat on July 21st, 2007, by a unanimous decision. The victory, however, was somewhat tainted, in that M’baye fought totally unlike his normal style, throwing very few punches and doing next to nothing. Some people at ringside wondered what was up with M’baye, speculating that he may have been injured. Whatever the case, it was a most peculiar fight by M’baye, and it seemed to take away from Rees victory. Before that fight, Rees had shown nothing of the kind of talent that would have normally enabled him to beat a fighter in the class of M’baye.
Indeed, Rees was more liken to a club fighter as he’d fought almost exclusively opponents with losing records up to the point that he fought M’baye, and done like to to distinguish himself as a fighter capable of winning a title. The victory somehow has enlarged Rees ego in dramatic proportions, for not only is he predicting as win over Kotelnik on Saturday night, a fighter that many consider a class above Rees, but also looking towards fighting British lightweight Amir Khan. It seems pretty bold, if not a little deluded on Rees’ part for him to be already looking ahead of him beyond the Kotelnik fight, when most people see him taking a thrashing from Kotelnik.
Rees, however, will have the crowd on his side, which will number in the neighborhood of 50,000 by fight time, and along with that, he’ll no doubt be able to get away with the same grappling, inside rough house tactics that Ricky Hatton typically does due to the more lenient standards of British referees. Obviously, he’s going to need every trick in the book to beat Kotelnik, for he doesn’t match up with him in any way. He’s shorter than him at 5’3″ compared to 5’7″, and is less of a boxer, more dependent on brawling to win his fights.
This hasn’t been a problem for him up until now due to the class C level fighters that Rees has generally fought in his entire career, but to be suddenly thrust in there with a boxer with the skills of Kotelnik, it would seem to suggest that Rees will be in badly over his head in this fight. Of course, a miracle could happen, perhaps something on the lines of Kotelnik suddenly developing a paralysis of both arms similar to the one M’baye experienced in his fight with Rees in July. Short of that, however, Kotelnik is going to beat Rees to a bloody pulp.
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