When Rees took on the WBC champ Broner in Atlantic City, the brash Cincinnati star lived up to the hype by halting the Welshman’s brave challenge at the end of the fifth round.
Rees, 33, won many admirers for his gutsy display across the pond, and after getting straight back into training ‘The Rock’ is ready to roll against Crolla and hunt down a second chance to become a two-weight world champion.
“It was a massive stage to be involved in against Broner over in America,” said Rees. “I was disappointed with the result but he's a great talent and too good for me on the night.
“There was no point in being down about it afterwards. It was great to get a taste of the big stage in the States and it's made me hungry to get back to that again.
“I was confident of winning the fight and the first two rounds went OK but he's a massive puncher for a lightweight. I was very surprised just at how good he was and I really believe he is the next big star in boxing.
“I would've carried on until I was knocked out cold but I was straight back in the gym on the Thursday after the fight – maybe if I had been totally knocked out I wouldn't have been so eager. But now I'm back headlining a big show against a good contender in Anthony Crolla.
"I was never going to win the fight, I was getting hit by big shots and was falling behind, but I'm a warrior and a fighter and I wanted to go out on my shield.
“I've had some good tweets from the States and I think I earned a lot of respect in the end. I got straight back down to the nitty-gritty afterwards and although I'm not looking past Anthony but I want another world title shot to come from this - and I'm sure that's what he is looking for, that's what makes it a great fight.”
Rees is convinced that a dominant display will put him in right in the World title picture and that could lead to a showdown with stable mate Ricky Burns.
The Scotsman holds the WBO belt and has already defended it in an all-Brit clash with Kevin Mitchell, and Rees says he would relish a shot at a man he knows well.
“People are linking me to a fight with Ricky Burns because he’s a world champion and I am hunting a world title shot, so it's logical,” said Rees. “Who wouldn't want to fight a World champion? It'd be another great night with two Brits going at it for a world title.
"I've had Ricky's trainer Billy Nelson in our corner a few times and I've sparred with Ricky, so I know him well and he's a nice lad, but he's got the belt so he's a natural fight to look for – but so is a fight with Richard Abril or Miguel Vazquez as they have belts too.”
Also on the Bolton bill, Liverpool super middleweights Paul Smith and Tony Dodson scrap for the vacant British title, light middleweight Brian Rose takes on Alexey Ribchev, super bantamweight Scott Quigg returns to action and Team GB’s Olympic boxing captain Thomas Stalker is joined by young stars Erick Ochieng, Dale Evans and Maxi Hughes.
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