Rees views Kotelnik as stepping stone to Khan fight

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The Independent Online

Gavin Rees has Amir Khan on his mind as he prepares to defend his WBA light-welterweight title for the first time against Andreas Kotelnik, the Ukrainian, in Cardiff tonight. The Welshman became one of British boxing's most unlikely world champions when he emerged from a career seemingly destined for undercards to dethrone Souleymane M'baye on points last July.

Now the 27-year-old, from the Enzo Calzaghe camp in Cwmcarn, is keen to muscle in on the domestic 140lb mix and sees a clash with Commonwealth lightweight king Khan as his ticket to riches. "There are fights out there against the likes of Khan, Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter," Rees said. "I hope the Khan fight comes off because he has been shouting his mouth off in the papers."

Rees would be wise to focus on Kotelnik, who was unfortunate to only score a draw against M'baye in Liverpool a year ago in a fight that the Ukrainian appeared to boss. Kotelnik went the distance with Witter in 2005 and his 28-2-1 record looks more impressive than Rees' 27-0 roster, on which the majority of opponents are domestic fighters with losing records.

Still, Rees' victory over M'baye suggests that, despite physical disadvantages, he has the necessary attributes. "A lot of people still doubt me, but I'll shut them up on Saturday."