Gavin Rees is relishing defending his European lightweight title against Anthony Mezaache in Paris on Friday night, live on Sky Sports 4 and HD4 from 9pm – and says victory will prove he is willing to fight anyone, anywhere.
The Welshman defends the belt for the second time against Mezaache, the Parisian fighter who won the belt on foreign soil himself in February 2009 when he beat Jon Thaxton in Norwich.
Rees enters Mezaache’s backyard aiming to kick his 2012 off with an impressive defence that could land him an exciting British fight against lightweight rivals Ricky Burns, Kevin Mitchell, John Murray and Anthony Crolla – and the 31 year-old says he’ll prove he can fight anywhere.
“Every boxer wants to fight at home but I don't mind going to France,” said Rees. “I don't think it'll be a hostile crowd but even if it is, it's only a crowd, they can't get in the ring and help him when he's in there with me at my best. I only have to worry about my performance, not his – if I do what I do best, I'll get the job done.
I've seen a few clips of him from his fight against Thaxton. He beat him quite comfortably but I think that wasn't the best of Jon, he was on his way out. So I think that this is a job I am confident of doing.”
Rees’ first defence ended in a technical draw against Derry Mathews in October when a clash of heads left the Liverpool man with a broken nose. The champ has been itching to get back into the ring to show the benefits of his new attitude to training, which he attributes to trainer Gary Lockett and nutritionist Renzo Algieri.
“I've been a professional nearly 14 years and only lost one fight so I've done well, but I think I'm improving all the time,” said Rees. “I'm 32 in May and I'm feeling so good I could go on forever.
I've got older and got wiser. When you are younger you think your career is going to go on forever. This is my last chance at World title glory really so everything has to be done 100 per cent right. I was eating the wrong foods, drinking water at the wrong times, and in the championship distance, like against Andy Murray, I died after four rounds.
"So we'd been tinkering with that before the Derry Mathews fight and we got it right. That didn't go beyond four rounds so no-one got to see the difference, but it was a lot better then and it will be even better now.
There are some big domestic fights out there for me with Burns, Mitchell, Crolla and (John) Murray and I want all of them. I've been training hard for Mezaache and once I've got past him I want to fight one of the big name Brits. I don't believe that I have been truly recognised for my achievements so hopefully beating one of those boys would get me there. I sparred with Ricky and we had some great sessions and I know it would be a crowd-pleaser.
I'd like to have a go at Ricky or maybe I could win another one of the World titles and we could have a massive unification fight. We've got a great group of lightweights in Britain at the moment, maybe one of the strongest ever, so hopefully we can all fight each other soon.”