Modern day boxing is a cruel mistress. Once entangled, there is no escape. It is impossible to fall out of love with her or to find the frustration and disappointment she dispenses outweighthe rare reward of witnessing a Ward v Gatti or Moore v Macklin type contest. Boxing is a love-hate relationship, fans love boxing but boxing hates the fans.
At least, the sanctioning bodies that patrol it, like scavenging hyenas that follow the lions, hate boxing fans. How else could they be prepared to sanction Gavin Rees, a short-armed, face first domestic pro against a talented, slick, in-form, seasoned world champion like Souleymane M’Baye?
Few world-title fights have pitched a more unworthy challenger in with a champion. Eddie Croft’s exhibition bout turned world-title fight with Erik Morales is one, Bobby Gunn’s selection to face Enzo Maccarinelli another and perhaps a prime Roy Jones versus Richard Frazier, an active policeman are three which come to mind. This isn’t to discredit Rees as a gutsy fighter, he is after all unbeaten and a genuine professional nor is it to paint M’Baye as Aaron Pryor but the gulf in form, competition and talent is so wide Rees may need to borrow Evil Knievel’s bike to jump it when the two meet.
Rees simply has not performed anywhere near this level of competition, he hasn’t even fought for a British title at Lightweight, a class where he was once ranked number one by the WBO, let alone the ten stone division. A fact that only goes to show how far the sanctioning bodies will go to satisfy the whim of their preferred promoters rather than provide substance to Rees’ sudden selection as an opponent for the WBA Light-Welterweight champion.