- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Adrien Broner, who looked sensational destroying Antonio DeMarco via one-sided eighth-round knockout in November to win a lightweight world title, will be back to make his first defense against former junior welterweight titleholder Gavin Rees of Wales on Feb. 16 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
But some have called for Broner to ditch lightweight already and move up the scale to junior welterweight, even though he just won the title (after being stripped of his junior lightweight belt for failing to make weight for his final defense). It makes no sense because there is no obvious big fight in that weight class sitting there for Broner right away.
Sure, junior welterweight fights with the likes of Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse or Amir Khan could be there down the road -- and are relatively easy to make since they are all with Golden Boy Promotions. But none are available right now.
Besides, Broner (25-0, 21 KOs), an immensely talented young fighter, is just 23. There's absolutely no rush. None whatsoever. The kid potentially has another decade-plus near the top of the sport to make big fights. They will come in time.
On Thursday's teleconference to talk about his fight with Rees, I asked Broner what he thought about the calls of some for him to move up in weight before even defending his lightweight crown once and I was glad to hear his reasoned response.
Broner said before Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs) was signed as his opponent, he did not consider going to 140 pounds. That move is for the future.
"Negative," Broner said. "That's what everybody wants you to do. They've just seen me dominate and put on a great performance -- a hell of a performance. He was the world champion, DeMarco, and they want me to just automatically go up to 140.
"No, I just moved up to this weight. I still make the weight eating steak and potatoes every night at training camp. I make the weight comfortably, so I'm going to stay here for a lot of good fights that I still can have at 135 pounds. So, I'm going to flush out this lightweight division and then we can go up to the light welterweight and crush their dreams. So, we're going to stay here for a while."
Broner's move up probably will come sooner than later without prodding from the public or press. The lightweight division does not have a lot of depth for Broner to have major fights.
But should he take care of Rees (which I expect he will) there is a potential fight with fellow titleholder Ricky Burns. That fight, however, will be tough to make considering that Burns and promoter Frank Warren could have had it for Feb. 16 but so massively overpriced themselves that it never had a prayer of realistically being made.
Whatever Broner and his handlers decide to do, I don't think anyone should be rushing him to move up in weight. Let him make at least one lightweight title defense and then we can revisit the situation.