Gavin Rees won the vacant European lightweight title today in Cardiff, surviving his own poor stamina to beat Andy Murray by unanimous decision. Rees won on scores of 116-112, 115-112 and 115-112. Bad Left Hook scored it a slightly wider 117-110 for Rees.
Rees (35-1, 16 KO) started very well and dominated the first seven rounds of the fight with relative ease, eventually getting to the point that he was toying with the Irishman. But then Rees' lack of conditioning caught up with him again, allowing Murray to charge back into the fight starting in the eighth round. That and the ninth were clear Murray rounds, and at one point Rees was even docked a point for excessive holding, as he desperately tried to keep Murray from loading up any firepower.
Murray (24-1, 12 KO) in the end can only blame himself. He was remarkably ineffective early in the fight, and given that the scores wound up fairly close, a better start may have won him the fight. The first six or seven rounds were all Rees, who darted in and out well, and used his superior speed to frustrate Murray. Rees also used the clinch effectively, never allowing Murray to gain any momentum.
From an action standpoint, it was probably a disappointing fight for most. Rees wasn't his usual fireball self, and Murray fought with such little urgency or passion that it was at times remarkable simply because he seemed to lack the hunger and will to win you'd have expected from a 28-year-old fighter in his first real crack at something significant.
Unless Rees is matched carefully, he could have some real trouble as European champ. Someone like Anthony Crolla could be a real handful for "The Rock," and I wouldn't expect a long title reign. Rees just too often gives himself more trouble than he should. He's really a talented fighter who seems to not accept that he's only 5'7" (on a good day), but the stamina issues are going to be, you know, an issue.
In the Sky co-feature, which I sadly did not pay enough attention to as thunderstorms rolled over me during that fight, super bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton improved to 10-0 (6 KO) with a decision win over an ultra game Robbie Turley (10-4, 1 KO). Reports are it was a terrific fight, and what I managed to catch was pretty damn exciting.
We'll be back this evening with more live coverage, for both Froch vs Johnson on Showtime (9 p.m. EDT) and Zbik vs Chavez on HBO (10 p.m. EDT). We will almost surely be able to cover both main events, so be here tonight!