The stakes couldn't be much higher for Gavin "The Rock" Rees (37-3-1, 18 KO). By his own account, Rees' career is on the line on Saturday night when he takes on Gary "Dynamo" Buckland (27-3, 9 KO) at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Rees has lost two fights in a row, and at the age of 33, he can ill afford to lose three straight. He hopes to get back in the hunt for another shot at the lightweight title, but the Dynamo is standing in his way.
Buckland is also coming off a loss in his last fight. He was stopped in the fifth round by Stephen Smith in August 2013. At 27 years old, he probably still has some tread left on his tires either way.
However, a win over an opponent as well-known as Rees would give Buckland's career a nice boost.
If nothing else, this bout is sure to be fought with a strong sense of urgency. Lee Selby will battle Rendall Munroe in the main event of the card, but on paper, that bout doesn't look to be as competitive as Rees vs. Buckland.
The two men have sparred together, they fight a similar style and both have won the British reality boxing show Prizefighter.
Phil Blanche of Wales Online talks up the potential excitement that could come from the Rees-Buckland bout.
The two former Prizefighter champions will meet at lightweight on Matchroom’s ‘Reloaded’ show on February 1, both men coming off losses and desperate to revive their careers.
Although [Selby’s] challenge for the vacant European featherweight title tops the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena card, it’s the collision between Rees and Buckland which is set to get Welsh boxing buzzing.
Here's how you can watch the entire card and a closer look at the fighters.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. EST
Where: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
TV: Sky Sports
Live Stream: AWE TV
The Book on Rees
Last year was a rough one for Rees. He had to be eager to see the calendar flip over to 2014. He dealt with the two aforementioned losses to solid opponents (Adrien Broner and Anthony Crolla) and also endured some injuries.
When speaking to Boxing Scene, Rees didn't hold back when discussing the desperation surrounding Saturday's fight.
If I lose to Gary I think that would be the end of the road for my career. It’s all on the line for me, if I lose its curtains.
2013 was the worst of my career. Two fights, two losses and some injuries, things can only get better this year. I want to start off with a good win against Gary, who is a really talented fighter that likes to come forward just like I do, so it promises to be a really good fight for the fans. We've sparred lots of rounds and if that's anything to go on, it'll be a great fight.
Richar Abril (WBA), Yuriorkis Gamboa (WBA Interim), Omar Figueroa (WBC), Miguel Vazquez (IBF) and Ricky Burns (WBO) are the current title holders at 135 pounds.
Rees could seemingly be competitive against any of them, but a bout with Burns could be really good.
First things first, Rees has to get back on the winning track with a win over a tough foe on Saturday.
The Book on Buckland
Buckland has bounced between the super featherweight and lightweight divisions throughout his career. He is the former British Boxing Board of Control champion at 130 pounds, but he lost that title in his last bout.
Moving back up to 135 was a smart move for Buckland, and taking on one of the smaller contenders may give him an advantage. Rees stands just 5'4". At 5'7", Buckland will have a noticeable and potentially pivotal height advantage.
If he's successful, this edge will likely be instrumental in the bout.
Who will win Rees-Buckland, and how?
This fight could be a poor man's version of one of the Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward fights. There won't be a ton of dancing around, as both prefer to fight on the inside.
It would behoove Buckland to create a bit of space, but his natural instinct is to put his head down and whack away with power shots.
Because Rees is the more powerful puncher, he has the edge in this type of fight. He'll outmuscle Buckland on the inside and grind out a grueling split-decision victory.
Don't be surprised to see a rematch.
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