Unbeaten lightweight champion Adrien Broner is coming back to Atlantic City next month.
Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) will defend his WBC 135-pound title against Wales native Gavin Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall on Feb. 16. The card, which is being sponsored by Caesars Atlantic City, also will feature a rematch between top American heavyweights Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) and Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs).
“Caesars is pleased to begin 2013 with this sensational championship doubleheader,” Caesars Entertainment consultant Ken Condon said Wednesday in a statement. “Boxing fans shouldn’t miss this opportunity to see one of the world’s top lightweights (Broner) take on a former world champion (Rees).”
Tickets will go on sale Friday. Seats will be priced from $25 to $200 and will be available through PressofAtlanticCity.com/tickets. Both bouts will also be televised on HBO Championship Boxing.
Broner, a 23-year-old Cincinnati native, is considered one of boxing’s top young competitors. The former WBO super-featherweight champion won the lightweight crown at Boardwalk Hall on Nov. 17 when he dominated former champ Antonio DeMarco en route to earning an eighth-round TKO.
“My respect goes out to Gavin Rees for stepping up to the plate and fighting, in my opinion, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com.
There had been talk of Broner facing WBO champ Ricky Burns (35-2, 10 KOs) in a unification fight or unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa (22-0, 16 KOs), but details could not be worked out. Instead, he will meet Rees, a 32-year-old former WBA junior-welterweight champ who is ranked No. 2 by the WBA and No. 5 by the WBO.
Rees, who will be considered a huge underdog, is making his United States debut.
“Some are saying he’ll knock me out in one or two rounds,” Rees told Liveboxing.com on Wednesday. “But in 24 years (of boxing) nobody has ever done that to me, so it’s not happening this time. I don’t have a prediction, but I will win. I’m a fighter’s fighter and I’ll fight anybody, anywhere.”
Banks (No. 3 WBC, No. 8 IBF) and Mitchell initially fought on the Broner-DeMarco undercard.
Banks, a Detroit native who also serves as a trainer for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, pulled off a stunning win when he dropped Mitchell three times while notching a second-round knockout. Until suffering his first loss, Mitchell — a former linebacker for Michigan State University — appeared on his way to a world title fight.
Mitchell, a Brandywine, Md., resident, could have taken a tuneup fight before fighting Banks again but chose to exercise the rematch clause in his contract immediately.
“(Taking a tuneup fight) never entered my mind,” Mitchell told The Bleacher Report last week. “I am not taking nothing away from Johnathon Banks. He beat me that night, but I don’t feel that he’s a better fighter than me. I just want to get him back in the ring and it will be a different outcome this time.”
This will mark Mitchell’s third straight fight at Boardwwalk Hall. On April 28, 2012, he scored a third-round TKO over Paulsboro prospect Chazz Witherspoon (30-3, 22 KOs) on the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins undercard.
Punchlines: Boxing will return to Bally’s Atlantic City on Feb. 23 with a card featuring Somers Point middleweight Patrick Majewski and Middle Township light-heavyweight Chuck Mussachio.
Majewski (20-1, 13 KOs) will fight Philadelphia native Jamaal Davis (14-8-1, 6 KOs) in the 10-round main event. Mussachio (18-2-2, 5 KOs) will take on Buffalo, N.Y., native Lionell Thompson (12-2, 8 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Millville featherweight Joshua Caban-Reyes (3-0, 1 KO) is scheduled to be on the undercard.
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