Rees to face Mezaache
Paris defence for Welshman looks a tough assignment
Last Updated: 21/02/12 4:03pm
Gavin Rees: second defence of his European title
Gavin Rees will defend his European lightweight title against Anthony Mezaache in Paris on Friday March 23, live on Sky Sports.
The 31-year-old Welshman won the vacant belt in June against Andy Murray in Cardiff.
Rees' first defence ended in a draw after Derry Mathews sustained a broken nose after a clash of heads in the fourth round of their fight in Newport in October.
The Newbridge fighter is looking to get back into World title contention after holding the WBA light welterweight title in 2007-08, but will face a stern task in Mezaache's hometown.
The Frenchman is seeking to hold the European belt for the second time having recovered brilliantly from a first round knock down to take it from Jon Thaxton in February 2009 in Norwich and defending it once before relinquishing.
The 33 year-old claimed the vacant WBA Inter-Continental and IBF International belts in April in the same Paris venue and followed that with another win there in December, his 21st professional victory from 30 contests.
"Gavin has been in the gym on and off since the Mathews fight," said Rees' trainer Gary Lockett. "The Gavin Rees of old is long gone, he's grown up a lot and he knows that being out of the gym when you haven't got a fight is not my way.
"So he's been training hard and he looks in fantastic shape - I wish the fight was this week really as he looks superb. But we will be very ready for March 23 and it's going to be a great occasion to fight in France.
"Gavin is a different animal today. In the last six months I've been able to get across to him what I want him to do and that's the main challenge when you are a new fighter-trainer team, and Gavin is reaping the benefits now that the communication is perfect. Gavin has slowed himself down and he's working at the pace I want him to.
"We've been doing a lot of sparring with a lad called Chris Goodwin from Chester and he's been coming down and doing eight and ten rounds of terrific sparring at a time, and all of this was when Gavin was still not sure 100 per cent sure of when he's going to fight - so his conditioning is fantastic and we'll just be fine tuning things in the next month."