By: William Holmes
HBO returned to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to present Adrien Broner’s WBC Lightweight title defense against former junior welterweight world titlist Gavin Rees. A rematch between Johnathon Banks and Seth Mitchell was supposed to be the co-main event, but a thumb injury to Banks forced the cancellation of the heavyweight matchup.
The WBC Super Middleweight title eliminator between Nikola Sjekloca and Sakio Bika became the new co-main event of the night.
There were a lot of empty seats tonight and it would have been a stretch to say Golden Boy Promotions sold half of the seats in boardwalk hall. The official attendance was only 4,182. The cancellation of Banks vs. Mitchell likely had a negative impact on ticket sales.
Sakio Bika (30-5-2) came into the ring first in his bout against Nikola Sjekloca (25-0). Sjekloca is undefeated but has spent his entire career fighting in Eastern Europe. Bika started off the fight strong and applied the pressure on Sjekloca, but he was unable to hurt Sjekloca. Bika controlled the fight with his jab and some decent body work, but he slowed down towards the end.
The most entertaining part of this bout occurred in between rounds as Sjekloca’s corner wildly waved their towel in the direction of Sjekloca to cool him off. Sjekloca had his moments, but it was obvious that his punches lacked the power that was necessary to hurt Bika.
A Bika fight isn’t a Bika fight without some headbutts and warning for low blows and they happened often tonight. Sjekloca complained in the tenth round after being struck with another head butt from Bika.
Sakio Bika won the decision victory in this lackluster bout with scores of 119-109, 118-112, 120-108. He is now the mandatory challenger for Andre Ward’s WBC belt.
Gavin Rees (37-1-1) and Adrien Broner (25-0) finally stepped into the ring at around 11:45 P.M. Broner of course made his ring entrance flashy as he had a live singer sing his entrance music while Broner sang along with a microphone attached to the side of his head.
Even though Rees has recently campaigned as a junior welterweight and Broner has recently campaigned as a junior lightweight, Broner looked a lot bigger than Rees inside the ring. The crowd was strongly in favor of Broner and he showed off his superior hand speed and power throughout. Rees was more competitive than most observers expected in the early rounds, but Broner’s reach advantage made Rees look like he had Tyrannosaurus Rex arms.
Broner began to connect with his straight right hand in the second round and had his check left hook perfectly timed in the third round. In the fourth round Broner knocked Rees down with a perfect right uppercut. Rees was still wobbly as he went to his corner at the end of the round and his corner was visibly concerned. The fifth round started off with some entertaining exchanged, but Broner scored another knockdown in the fifth round with a left hook to the body. Rees was able to get back to his feet but Broner unloaded on Rees by the ropes and Rees corner threw in the towel to end the fight.
Adrien Broner remains undefeated with a KO victory at 2:59 of the fifth round.