Rees vs. Broner
Saturday night's HBO World Championship Boxing telecast provided little in the way of drama, but we still learned a lot of about the participants.
Sakio Bika showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks in a one-sided decision victory over unheralded Nikola Sjekloca.
Adrien Broner dominated Gavin Rees, but also showed that he has a ways to go in the class department.
Let's take a look at the winners and losers from the televised portion of HBO's fight card from Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall.
Sakio Bika pounded Nikola Sjekloca all night
The Sakio Bika versus Nikola Sjekloca fight was thrown into the televised undercard slot when Jonathan Banks had to pull out of his rematch with Seth Mitchell due to injury.
The 33-year old Bika made the most of his televised opportunity, showcasing some newfound technique under the tutelage of trainer Kevin Cunningham.
Sakio Bika worked nicely behind his jab and controlled the pace versus Sjekloca throughout the 12-round bout.
Bika has been a contender for years, fighting the likes of Lucian Bute, Andre Ward and Joe Calazghe.
Calazghe took a moment to remind fans of his tough fight with Bika in 2006:
Sakio Bika is a tough guy! Beat him on points in 2006.Gave me a tough fight— Joe Calzaghe (@RealJoeCalzaghe) February 17, 2013
All in all, Bika did well putting on a dominant performance versus a very one dimensional opponent. With the win, Bika becomes the mandatory challenger for Andre Ward's WBC title. Having already beaten Bika by a one-sided decision, Ward may consider giving up his title for a more attractive fight.
Though Sakio Bika took advantage of his televised time versus Nikola Sjekloca, not everyone was happy with what they were watching. People took to Twitter to voice their displeasure over the undercard matchup.
When did HBO become Friday Night Fights? #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) February 17, 2013
Why am I subjecting myself to this fight. I wish I had something better to do tonight. Might watch Glee on demand instead. #boxing— Nicole Duva (@nicoleduva) February 17, 2013
HBO implemented a lot of new designs and features, but seemed to take criticism from all angles, even getting berated for their new intro music.
Gavin Rees had a tough assignment on Saturday night versus Adrian Broner. As Max Kellerman continually reminded us in the lead up to the fight, Rees was a 80 to 1 underdog at one point.
For the first two rounds, Rees was busy and hit Broner with some clean shots. Whether or not Broner was toying with Rees and allowing himself to be hit is debatable, but one thing is for sure, Rees was not in awe of Broner and didn't show up simply to collect a pay check.
After having some success in the first couple of rounds, Rees began to take some clean shots and the difference in ability became apparent, though Rees still gave it his all.
The fight versus Broner was Rees' first on American soil, but certainly shouldn't be his last. Boxing fans would love to see the gritty Welshman fight again whether it's in the States or abroad. If nothing else, Rees showed professionalism and earned the shot at another big fight.
Adrien Broner vs. Gavin Rees
You may be asking how Adrien Broner can be considered a loser on a night where he won by a fifth-round TKO.
The 23-year old Broner has the athletic gifts to be a boxing star, this much is obvious. What he doesn't have yet is the maturity and professionalism to match his boxing gifts.
Since it's NBA All-Star weekend, let's use a basketball analogy.
If you're an elite athlete and want to give the fans a show they'll remember—as Broner repeatedly said he wanted to do—you turn in a Michael Jordan, Game 5 of the 1997 Finals vs. Jazz type performance. In other words, you show precision and ice cold execution. What you don't do is turn your showcase into a Globetrotters game with behind the head punches.
Some observers took the time to put the Broner-Mayweather comparisons into perspective:
The number of times Broner has been hit by Rees roughly equals the number of punches Floyd Mayweather took in his first 10 bouts— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) February 17, 2013
Anyone who compares Broner with Mayweather in the ring isn't really watching the fights. Completely different styles.— adam abramowitz (@snboxing) February 17, 2013
Broner is obviously trying to build his marketability and persona up, but during the interview with Max Kellerman he showed a disregard for most questions and was basically just talking for the sake of hearing himself talk.
Gaging from the reaction on Twitter, Broner has some work to do in the PR department.
Adrien Broner says that he's a "household name." In whose house? There are 2 household names in #boxing now, Pacquiao and Mayweather— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) February 17, 2013
36-year old Gary Lockett is a former title contender and a promising young trainer.
Lockett has gotten Gavin Rees to trade in the pints at the pub for training at the gym, which has helped Rees inside and outside of the ring.
As Max Kellerman stated during the telecast, Locket prepared Gavin Rees as well as you can prepare a fighter.
After Rees was knocked down, Lockett gave his fighter a chance to go out and change the tide of the fight, even though he wanted to stop it as early as the third-round.
Lockett decided he'd seen enough in Round 5 and threw in the towel, saving his fighter from anymore unnecessary punishment. Lockett's phone will definitely be ringing with inquiries after a solid showing as Rees' trainer on Saturday night.