As the WBC lightweight champion, Adrien Broner is already at the top of his division, but he can cement his place with a victory over Gavin Rees on Saturday night in Atlantic City.
Broner (25-0) won his belt after disposing of former champion Antonio DeMarco last November with an eighth-round TKO that helped fully establish him as a stud in the lightweight division.
Before his win over DeMarco, Broner had handled other top fighters mostly from the super featherweight division. His credibility as a lightweight fighter is no doubt respectable, but "The Problem" is still building his legacy in the division.
His opponent in this bout, Rees (37-1-1), stands in Broner's way and could end The Problem's championship campaign rather quickly.
The 32-year-old has won his last two bouts and enters this fight with a ton of momentum as he tries to capture the lightweight crown and his second career world title. Rees has far more experience as a lightweight fighter than Broner.
The Problem may be a heavy favorite in this contest, but the relative unknown that is Rees could present a problem for Broner.
Rees has never fought in the states before but has an impressive resume overseas. If one international fighter can challenge Broner and give him a run for his money, it's Rees.
In fact, even Broner has admitted he doesn't know much about Rees, per George Willis of the New York Post:
I really don’t know this guy. I just want him to bring his 'A' game because if you want to get things just right you have to bring nothing but your ‘A’ game. I just hope he’s ready and I hope he is in shape because it’s going to be a long night.
Clearly, Broner isn't underestimating his opponent, which is important to avoid a letdown. However, Rees will bring an unpredictable element with him into this fight, so the chance remains that he can pull off an upset.
Besides, a man with Rees' outstanding record must be respected as a top competitor in the lightweight division.
If Broner goes ahead and takes care of business against Rees, it will be yet another major victory for the 23-year-old. At this early stage of his career, The Problem will have already beaten the best this continent has to offer as well as the best the world has to offer.
A decisive victory for Broner would be a major stepping stone toward Broner gaining legendary status in the lightweight division.