07.02.08 Rees makes first defence
Welsh star Gavin Rees will defend his WBA World Light-Welterweight title against world-rated Andreas Kotelnik on March 22 at the Cardiff International Arena.
An arena that for years was home to Joe Calzaghe, Rees is hoping to follow in his gym-mates footsteps by becoming a long-reigning world champion.
He won the title with a wide points victory over Souleymane M'Baye in July, a stunning performance that delivered team Calzaghe their fourth world champion, alongside Enzo Maccarinelli and Gary Lockett.
Now Rees takes on a man who very nearly beat M'Baye.
Kotelnik felt he should have been given more than a draw when he met the Frenchman in Liverpool last March - and is now out to finally nail down the crown. He's mandatory challenger for the belt.
The Ukrainian, who is now based in Hamburg, Germany, and is promoted by Klaus-Peter Kohl.
His only defeats have been narrow ones on points - against M'Baye in Paris in October 2004, and then to Junior Witter in a European title challenge in July 2005.
But unbeaten Rees is backing home support and years of hard work under the tutelage of one of the worlds best trainers Enzo Calzaghe to deliver him victory.
"It took so long to win this title, I'm not giving it up in my first fight," said the 27-year-old.
"Beating M'Baye was a massive shock to many people - but not to me. And now I'm going to build on the win and become a unified world champion like my friend Joe Calzaghe.
"What Joe has done over the years has been amazing and a real inspiration to boxers in Wales, and when he finally retires, I'm going to take up where he left up.
"Kotelnik's got a great record, but I'm going to jump on from the first bell and give him hell. I didn't let M'Baye have a moment's rest, and I'll be all over Kotelnik right from the start."
Rees added that he's been boosted by Wales' shock success in the rugby at the weekend against England at Twickenham.
"For a small country, we don't do bad at sport, and I'll be fighting for the nation on March 22" he added.
"My gym-mates Enzo Maccarinelli and Joe Calzaghe have got massive fights either side of mine, and I'll do the business in the second leg of what will be a glorious hat-trick."
An action-packed undercard will see Gary Lockett appear in an international 10-rounder as he aims to keep up the pressure on full WBO champion Kelly Pavlik, while Barrie Jones and Tony Doherty meet in a challenge for the Welsh welterweight title.
Top prospects, Kell Brook, Harry Miles, Don Broadhurst and Kerry Hope are all in action.
Tickets, priced at Â£40, Â£50, Â£75, Â£100 and Â£150 are available from the C.I.A Box Office on 02920 224488, See Tickets on 0870 060 3794 and Ticketline on 08700 667799
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