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Rees Retains Title amid Strange Circumstances

Gavin Rees
Gavin Rees

By Anson Wainwright at ringside, Newport Centre, South Wales

On a humid night near his hometown, Gavin “The Rock” Rees, 35-1-1 (16), retained his European lightweight title for the first time albeit via strange circumstances when he clashed heads with Derry Mathews, 29-5-1 (15), in the fourth round of their clash, leaving Mathews with a broken nose. Referee John Keane had no choice but to call a halt to proceedings and under EBU rules, when a clash of heads causes a fight to end inside four rounds, the bout is declared a technical draw.

After the introductions, the action began with Mathews enjoying a good start, using his one-and-a-half-inch height and four-inch reach advantages to land several shots, all of which were loudly cheered by a good few who had travelled from Liverpool to cheer on their man. 

Not perturbed, Rees stoically continued to come forward and by the final minute of the second round, was having his own successes getting inside of Mathews’ jab and firing off his own combinations.

The third round was similar with Mathews looking to again counter Rees but the Welshman again found his way inside and began going to the body.

Just as things were warming up, with the fight still very much in the balance, Rees looked to land a left hook only for the side of his head to crash into Mathews’ nose. Instantly, Mathews’ nose poured blood. After Keane took him to the neutral corner to see the doctor, they decided Mathews was in no position to continue and brought the action to a close under unfortunate circumstances.

Afterward, Rees said he would be happy to give Mathews a rematch after he fulfills his own mandatory obligation against former champion Anthony Mezaache of France. At the time of the stoppage, all three judges had Rees ahead 29-28 from the three completed rounds.

Chief support saw Rees’ stablemate, former Commonwealth light middleweight champion Bradley Pryce score an eight-round decision over Bristol’s Danny Butler. The action was close throughout with Pryce looking to load up and land the heavier punches. Finally, in the dying moments of the final frame he landed a sweet left uppercut, dumping Butler on the canvas. Though Butler got back on his feet, the knockdown proved to be enough for referee Wynford Jones to round out his scorecard at 77-75 for Pryce, now 32-10 (18). Butler, who was fighting for the first time in nearly 18 months, dips to 19-5 (4).

Also on the card dubbed “Dragons Den,” former European lightweight champion Jason Cook, 29-4-1 (15), got in some target practice with a third round stoppage over overmatched Laszlo Szekeres, 10-13-3 (2), as a warm-up to his fight with Curtis Woodhouse, scheduled for 26 November.The Hungarian was dropped before the action was waved off at the 1:48 mark of the third round.

Super middleweight Frankie Borg, 5-0 (1), kept his unbeaten record intact with a sixth round decision win over Jason Ball, 3-4 (2), by the single score of 58-56 by referee Clarke Joslyn.

Swansea featherweight Ricky Owen returned after a yearlong absence to outpoint game Dougie Curran, 5-8-1, to run his record to 15-0 (4) in a bloody bout.

After drawing in his debut, Gareth Piper won his first fight, a four-round decision over Tony Pace, 0-2.

Jeff Evans, 8-1-1 (1), also defeated Sam Couzens, 7-6 (1), in light heavyweight action and current Welsh Amateur super heavyweight champion Dorian Darch, improved to 2-0 with a shutout points win over the durable Sandor Balogh, 2-22-4 (1).

Gary Buckland who, last weekend, won the British super featherweight title, was in attendance and was presented the Lonsdale belt. Also in the crowd were current British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby and former WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli.

It was hoped that Rees would make this card a third success in as many weeks by winning the main event on Sky Sports. While it wasn’t a loss, it wasn’t the way Rees would have liked to have retained his title.

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