With a style perfectly suited for the tournament's format, former 140-pound world titleholder Gavin Rees got back into the mix at junior welterweight with a terrific performance today in London, winning the ninth Prizefighter.
Rees (31-1, 14 KO) won all three of his fights by decision, and there was only one fight ended before the final bell all night. Rees beat a valiant Colin Lynes (33-7, 12 KO) in the final.
For Rees, this may give him another opportunity to go for a world title at 140, though I don't think he'd fare too well with any of the titlists. I still think very little of his ability to compete on the world stage; the guy he beat for his world title (Souleymane M'baye) was a regional fighter in his own right, and it was just one of those fluky things. One unqualified "world champion" loses to another man who isn't quite fit for the distinction.
I also find Rees' arrogance off-putting, and I'll admit I'm simply not a fan. But I cannot deny that he came in with the exact perfect gameplan tonight, and seemed to be the only fighter in the tournament that totally understood how to go about this thing. With three, three-minute rounds in every fight, aggression is a major help. Rees was a bulldozer all night, a 5'4" ball of motion who attacked the body, then went for good head shots from deep down. And he won every fight of his convincingly.
It was an impressive performance overall. And he does make for exciting fights, because he's a gutsy guy, and in part because he is so arrogant. He's extremely confident, feels he's underrated, and hey, he's held a world title and won a Prizefighter tournament, so maybe he is.
Here's how the tournament played out:
Jason Cook TKO-3 Michael Grant
Fight was stopped with 46 seconds left on a cut; Cook would have won my card, even with Grant winning the third round to that point.
Gavin Rees UD-3 Ted Bami
Bami seemed like his body wasn't responding, and there was talk that he badly struggled to make the weight. Bami fought in the welterweight Prizefighter tournament before, and made it to the finals. In this one, he was just widely outworked by Rees in the opening round. This fight had plenty of hype and didn't live up to its billing.
Colin Lynes SD-3 David Barnes
Like Grant, Barnes is very much a boxer, not a fighter, and the format did not suit him well. Those of us in the live thread seemed in agreement: Lynes won this fight, but Barnes is the better boxer. Doesn't much matter today, though.
Young Mutley UD-3 Barrie Jones
Mutley faded out in the third round, nearly letting Jones pull one out of his hat. The first two rounds were all Mutley, though.
Gavin Rees UD-3 Jason Cook
The two Welshmen put on the night's best fight, for my money, and Rees bulldozed his way to the final. Cook was game, but Rees was just too fast and too determined.
Colin Lynes SD-3 Young Mutley
Lynes took this one 30-27 on two cards, with Mutley getting 29-28 on the other. I had it 29-27 for Lynes, as I scored a 10-8 third for the knockdown Lynes did score, which was called by the referee. After the fight, Sky studio commentator Johnny Nelson remarked that the knockdown was the difference. Given that Lynes won every round on the two cards he won, no, it wasn't the difference. In fact, it made no difference whatsoever. And the judges didn't even score a 10-8 in that round -- none of them did.
Gavin Rees UD-3 Colin Lynes
Lynes gave it his best go, but Rees had the stamina and conditioning, and he did the same thing he did in the first two rounds.
Rees and trainer Enzo Calzaghe had the perfect plan, and Rees used it brilliantly tonight.