FORMER world champion Gavin Rees says his all-Gwent showdown with Gary Buckland could be his last chance to revive his career after two successive defeats.
Newbridge fighter Rees admits he considered retiring from the sport he loves after losing to Anthony Crolla for the WBO intercontinental lightweight title in June.
That, combined with a comprehensive defeat to US star Adrien Broner when he challenged for the WBC world title in February, meant the 33-year-old seriously considered hanging up his gloves.
And he knows that if he is to have a future among boxing’s elite he simply must beat Newport’s Buckland at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena on February 1 next year.
“This is my last chance,” said Rees, who briefly held the WBA world light-welterweight title in 2008.
“I take defeat hard. I thought about retirement for a day after my last defeat but I’ve had a little break and, at the end of the day, what else am I going to do?
“I absolutely love fighting, you’ve just got to dust yourself down and go on to the next one.
“It’s hard for any fighter to walk away from something you love. It’s a big decision,” he added.
“I don’t plan on losing but if I did I’d have to sit down and think again.
“I’m feeling as good as I have for years and I’m loving being in the gym. I just need to take that into the fight this time.”
Buckland, who trains with Tony Borg at St Joseph’s gym in Newport, also needs to bounce back from a damaging defeat after he was knocked out by Stephen Smith in August to lose his British super-featherweight belt.
“We’ve sparred plenty of rounds and he’s a good tough fighter, I think everyone knows that,” said Rees.
“We’re both coming off losses and it’s a great fight for the Welsh public. I’m looking forward to it.
“We are both come-forward fighters and we both love a tear-up so it should be a cracking fight.
“We’re friends before the fight and we’ll be friends again afterwards.
“Boxing is a business. We’re both in it to make money and this fight should sell a lot of tickets.
“I’m confident of getting the win,” he added. “I’m naturally the bigger fighter as he’s coming up from super-featherweight.
“But I was confident before my last two fights and I lost those!”
Rees is still upset by the defeat to Crolla and if he deals with Rees he would love a rematch with the Mancunian.
“I only lost narrowly to Crolla with an injury,” he said. “No excuses he beat me fairly but I think I’m on another level and he would never have beaten a fully fit Gavin Rees.
“If I get a good win here I don’t see why there couldn’t be a rematch with Crolla.
“Me against (Kevin) Mitchell or Crolla would be perfect. There’s a lot of good fights out there for me still.”