TRAINER Gary Lockett believes the eagerly anticipated all-Gwent clash between his man Gavin Rees and St Joseph’s boxer Gary Buckland is make or break for both fighters.
The local rivals meet at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on February 1 next year on the undercard of Lee Selby’s European featherweight title bout against Rendall Munroe.
And both have a lot to prove after a year to forget in 2013.
Newbridge star Rees, a one-time WBA world light-welterweight champion, has suffered successive defeats for the first time in his long career.
The 33-year-old was brutally dispatched by US star Adrien Broner when the pair fought for the WBC world lightweight title in February.
And he then lost out on points to Manchester’s Anthony Crolla for the WBO inter-continental lightweight strap in June.
Buckland travelled 7,000 miles to Buenos Aires to take on Argentine Fernando David Saucedo for the WBC international silver belt in April and a win would have put him in line for a crack at the world title.
But the bout was called off at the last minute when hundreds of fight fans poured into the ring following Sergio Martinez’s victory over Britain’s Martin Murray in their world title showdown.
He then lost his British super-featherweight belt when he was knocked out by Stephen Smith in August.
Lockett is confident that Rees will prevail but he knows that the stakes are high for both fighters.
“Is it risky? At this stage of Gavin’s career he’s 33-years-old and he’s fighting a guy who got knocked out by Stephen Smith at a lower weight,” he said.
“I don’t see it as a risky match I see it as a match that Gavin has to take.
“It’s all or nothing, but not just for Gavin for Gary as well.
“He had a bad year last year with the knockout to Stephen Smith but I’m sure it’s going to be a good fight.
“It’s probably the best match that could have been made.”
Lockett says the close relationship he has with Tony Borg and all at the St Joes gym will makes this fight a strange experience but he knows it makes business sense.
“It’s an awkward one for us really,” said Lockett. “We regularly spar with the guys from St Joes.
“But I think it’s a sensible match because they needed a fight that was going to capture the public’s imagination and I think this does more than that.
“I think this fight would sell a show out on its own. It’s a fantastic fight.”