WBC lightweight champion Adrien "The Problem" Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) is right on the cusp of becoming boxing's newest megastar.
He may not cross over into that status by beating Gavin "The Rock" Rees (37-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday night, but many will be watching the next chapter in Broner's ascent.
Rees is a solid 32-year-old veteran from the United Kingdom, but he hasn't fought much top competition. Saturday will be his first fight in the United States. He is very much an unknown to most American boxing fans.
He'll be trying to derail one of the most dynamic and polarizing young fighters the sport has seen in a long while.
Broner is brash and obnoxious at times, but always impressive in the ring.
The combination of traits has made him the most polarizing man in the sport—this side of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
Here's how you can watch the clash of the Rock and the Problem, and a deeper analysis of both fighters.
When: Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10:30pm ET/PT
Where: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J,
Live Stream: HBOGO (Pay Service)
The Book on Broner
You've likely heard all of the Mayweather comparisons, and there is a similarity in the ring because of the Philly Shell defensive style, but Broner is a much different fighter than Money.
He's not quite as slick defensively, but he punches twice as hard.
The Problem throws more combinations, and most every shot he throws is hard or to set up a power shot. He's a knockout fighter, and he's looking for that in every single fight.
His above-average hand speed, solid foot work and overall athleticism are the other qualities that make him one of the sports' best.
He'll have an experienced and tough veteran in front of him, but he's far better than anyone his opponent has ever seen.
The Book on Rees
The Rock is a grinder.
Thanks to YouTube, I've seen a good number of his fights. I'm impressed with his spirit and passion, but his hand speed, power and defense aren't in the same class as Broner's.
He does throw solid combinations, but he rarely displays the pop to get his opponent's in trouble. He has scored consecutive stoppages, but the caliber of opponent pales in comparison to Broner.
Take a look at Rees stopping Anthony Mezaache in one of his most recent fights.
Rees likes to come forward constantly, but that style plays into Broner's hands. That is especially the case when you don't have a dependable jab.
He's a bit of a brawler in stretches, but with only 18 KOs in 38 fights, he isn't bringing enough power. Defensively, he keeps his hands low and relies on head movement to slip punches.
That may work on slower fighters that push the action to him, but Broner is an excellent counter-puncher.
When he counters, the punches will be coming quicker than Rees' initial shot, and with a lot more force.
This should be an easy win for Broner.
Barring a bad night for the Problem, or an instance where something about Rees' style gives Broner issues—like Mayweather-Jose Luis Castillo, this should end in a stoppage between the fourth and sixth round.
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