10:10am Thursday 13th March 2014
NEWBRIDGE'S former world champion Gavin Rees is set to box on and could be set for an immediate rematch with Newport puncher Gary Buckland, the Argus can reveal.
The Gwent duo were in an early contender for bout of the year in February at the Motorpoint Arena, a long-time dream fight for Welsh fight fans not disappointing with Buckland edging a split-decision verdict after 12 pulsating rounds.
Many observers felt Rees had been unlucky and will be salivating at a prospect of them doing it all again.
Rees, now 33, the former WBA world light welterweight champion, has lost his last three, also defeated by Adrien Broner in Atlantic City for the world WBC lightweight title and surprisingly to Anthony Crolla for the WBO intercontinental title in Bolton.
A former Prizefighter winner and a European champion with 37 wins from 42 contests, the diminutive boxer nicknamed 'The Rock' had vowed to retire if he was beaten by Buckland.
However, the quality of the contest, the critical acclaim it has received and the controversial manner of the defeat all appear to have combined to convince Rees that he should continue his 16-year professional career.
"Gavin and I haven't really discussed the retirement issue whatsoever, I think it was precisely two days that Gavin sat at home and stewed on the defeat before he called me," trainer Gary Lockett explained.
"The upshot of the conversation was that Gavin felt he wasn't ready to call it quits and felt he'd be bored stiff sitting at home dwelling on a defeat and there hasn't been more said.
"I still think he's got a bit left in the tank and he would certainly be keen on a rematch with Gary Buckland."
Cwmbran's Lockett, himself a former world title challenger, wasn't in a position to speculate on Rees' next opponent, but the Argus understands promoter Eddie Hearn would like to see Rees v Buckland II on the undercard of the next Lee Selby bill, likely to be in May or June.
Selby, who trains at St Joseph's gym in Newport under Tony Borg alongside Buckland, is set for a mandatory defence.
St Joes trainer Borg and Buckland himself have already confirmed they'd be keen on a rematch with Rees.
"I'm definitely interested in a rematch, 100%," Buckland told BoxingWales.com last month.
"As long as they sort the deal, money talks and if they give me the right offer then I'm definitely up for it.
"Gavin is a genuinely nice guy and we're good friends. It's only a sport at the end of the day. We are in there to fight, we were both in the same shoes and I'd do it again."
Lockett believes Rees is also influenced by the fact many critics feel he has been harshly treated twice in a row.
"It isn't just me who feels Gavin won the Anthony Crolla, one of the most respected trainers in the country (Adam Booth) agreed with me and many, many people think Gavin beat Gary," he said.
"It's not sour grapes speaking, but I know a lot of people would love to see the rematch."
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