TRAINERS past and present have paid tribute to Newbridge’s Gavin Rees after he decided to retire, writes Michael Pearlman.

The 34-year old called time on his glittering career after ending on a high in Cardiff, defeating domestic rival Gary Buckland last weekend.

A former world, European, British and Prizefighter champion, Rees is calling it quits to focus on business interests, namely running a bar and an effort to start up a new amateur boxing gym.

Rees has boxed since the age of nine, initially training with Paul Williams in Newbridge before he handed the keys to his gym over to Enzo Calzaghe.

The Sardinian trainer, father to Joe and the most decorated coach in British boxing history, worked with Rees in 2009 when he switched to work with former stablemate Gary Lockett.

The Cwmbran man has helped to revive Rees, who faced a battle throughout his career with an unhealthy lifestyle.

However, Lockett is content Rees has enhanced his legacy under his watch.

“We changed a few things and he’s done well, he’s earned a lot of money since he’s been with me, he’s looked ahead to later life by buying a bar and a boxing gym and I’m proud of that,” he said.

“He’s done well in the past few years and now he walks off into the sunset on his own terms.

“He’s the hardest working, funniest, toughest grafter I’ve been associated with and more than likely ever will be involved with, he’s a total star.

“I can honestly say I think Gavin is a legend of Welsh boxing.

“He’s produced some great performances in his career and he never took a backward step, he was unbelievably tough, a true warrior.”

Former trainer Calzaghe agrees.

“I’ve said before that behind Joe, Gavin is the best boxer I’ve worked with, he was extraordinarily talented,” he said.

“I have watched his fights since we’ve stopped working together and it’s been great to see him with a spring in his step.

“I’m very pleased he was able to go out on a high with a win.”

Lockett admits he would train Rees if he changed his mind about retirement, but is 99% sure that won’t be an issue.

“If Gavin came to me and changed his mind it’d be tricky,” he explained.

“He told me to tell him no, that I wouldn’t train him anymore, because in his mind he’s done.

“But if he was adamant? I suppose I’d have to train him, as otherwise he might end up going to any old gym and I wouldn’t want that.

“But I’m 99% sure it’s not going to be an issue.

“I think he’s done and we should cherish what we had, because he’s a special, special fighter.”