Interview: British lightweight champion Gavin Rees

Interview: Gavin Rees
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Gavin Rees tells Sports Mole that he is desperate to test himself against John Murray in December before moving onto a world-title shot early in 2013.

Current European and British Lightweight champion Gavin Rees will return to action at domestic level on December 8 against John Murray, subject to an agreement from his promoter Frank Warren.

Rees has edged tantalisingly close to a world-title shot in the last 12 months following a productive year with Matchroom Boxing.

The 'Rock' spoke to Sports Mole about boxing politics, jousting with keyboard warriors and aiming for career-defining fights against huge names at domestic and world level.

You will definitely box in December in a big domestic bill but how much do you hope it is John Murray?
"It's a great fight and he has confirmed the deal and agreed terms so hopefully Frank Warren will accept it later this week. Make no mistake, this will be a big fight for me. There are no options on the deal and we are giving his man a huge fight so I don't see any reason why he won't agree."

How frustrating have the last few months been waiting for a chance to fight for the WBA title?
"Obviously it's not ideal but it's not been too bad, I've been kept busy and I've been promised a fight in December and February. If I fight again no later than February I will be happy."

The move to Matchroom has seen your career take a different direction in the last 12 months. How has the transition gone?
"I've enjoyed boxing regularly to be honest. You see a lot of Warren's fighters all sat on the bench doing nothing for a year just like Murray. I can't afford to be doing that at 32. I'm boxing three or four times a year at a good level, what more do you want?"

You have gone on record as saying you want to fight the best at domestic level and move on to world level. Is it frustrating those big fights haven't materialised for you?
"It is tough to take. Obviously I want them and I think Murray, Kevin Mitchell and Ricky Burns want them too. Most importantly these are the fights the British public want to see. We were offered the Burns fight with three or four options but I'm happy at Matchroom. Make the fights with no options and I will sign. It should be like it used to be, winner take all with nothing attached."

Why do you think it has proved so problematic to track down the fights you want?
"Politics is ruining boxing at the moment. You see champions fighting boys who don't deserve a title shot in walkover fights. The public want 50/50 fights that guarantee them good action. Nothing should get in the way of that. It's either Mitchell or Murray now for me. If that doesn't happen I want to move past British or European level at this stage of my career."

Is the plan still to tie down Richard Abril and get a shot at the WBA title in the New Year?
"I do feel ready to move on. Abril is due to fight Sharif Bogere in November. If he does fight him I'll fight the winner, it should be that simple. Abril is a really good fighter and at the top level those are the people I want to face. That's the way it should be and I feel ready to take on the best. I don't know if I'm deluded but I honestly fancy my chances against anybody."

How tempting is it to look past your eventual opponent on the December card as a world-title chance looms round the corner?
"Listen, I've been boxing for 20 years now. You know when you're preparing properly and you learn with experience. I will train flat out for seven weeks now and I expect to be ready."

Do you pay any attention to the frustrations or criticisms of fans who flock to share their views online?
"I do have a look at the forums, I've been on there for years but don't often say a lot. Every boxer is on there, they just don't tell the truth. Nobody wants to see bad things written about them but it happens. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but if it was as easy as some think online then everyone would be a world champion."

How confident are that Murray will be your opponent in December and do you feel confident the fight can steal the show at the Olympia?
"I really hope so, me and Murray will put on a barnstormer. He is an awful tough kid, everyone knows that and he has agreed to the fight. I've wanted this fight for years but it hasn't happened. Come on Frank, give the public what they want and let's fight. He wants the fight, give the boy some work."

Ricky Burns
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