Boxing: Rees loses title but gains friends as Kotelnik eyes Khan

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The Independent Online

It finished 26 seconds before the final bell but nobody in the crowd or watching on television could accuse Gavin Rees of leaving work early on Saturday night in Cardiff. Rees had nothing left but his bravery and even that was being stretched to implausible lengths by the accurate fists of Andreas Kotelnik. Rees lost his World Boxing Association light-welterweight title but left the ring with the respect that the tacky bauble failed to deliver.

It was not a great night for the young Welshman and he admitted once the dark blood from his nose had been stemmed and once his head cleared that he had probably not been in the fight after round two. He is right and when it was finally called off there was a mixture of relief in one corner and joy in the other.

Kotelnik, a Ukrainian based in Germany, had narrowly failed in a world title fight last year but in the Cardiff ring his preparation was perfect and he was able to easily control Rees who was three or four inches shorter but what really handicapped the local fighter was his inability to alter tactics. Rees tried for round after round to simply wear Kotelnik down with a few sharp-looking body punches and an odd smile of defiance. However, Kotelnik never altered his high guard and as the rounds passed it was painfully clear that Rees was going to lose.

"To be honest I can't remember much of what was going on but I knew I was not winning," Rees said. When he won the world title last year his victory speeches were littered with the type of reality checks that he ran into last night.

Kotelnik could now be on a short collision course for a lucrative fight with Amir Khan. Rees, once the bruises have faded, will probably drop down a weight.

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