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GR must make Welsh boxing history in Dallas.

Gavin Rees will have history against him when he flies to Texas next month to bid for the WBO super-featherweight belt, an opportunity revealed in yesterday's Echo.

The 24-year-old Newbridge fighter's July 15 vacant title showdown in Dallas with another unbeaten youngster, Mike Anchondo, will be the first time a Welshman has tried for a world crown in the States since Colin Jones' WBC welterweight defeat by Milton McCrory in Las Vegas in August 1983.

And no Welsh boxer has ever won a world championship on foreign soil. Even Freddie Welsh, who lived in the States, claimed his world lightweight honour in London, although he did defend successfully across the Atlantic.

Beginning with US-based Cardiffian middleweight Tommy West, way back in 1898, it has been a list of gallant failures.

Jones, admittedly, drew his first meeting with McCrory, but Tommy Farr, Dai Dower, Howard Winstone, Johnny Owen and Nicky Piper were all beaten.

'Peerless' Jim Driscoll famously outboxed world feather king Abe Attell in New York in 1909, but those were the days when boxing in that state was officially outlawed and all bouts were regarded as 'No Decision' exhibitions.

If Driscoll had knocked Attell out, he would have been recognised as champion, but, instead, he never was.

Rees will have to go some to end the jinx. A 22-year-old Californian, Anchondo, already the WBC Youth champion, has won all 24 fights, stopping 18 of his opponents.

Managed by Joel de la Hoya, whose son, Oscar, will stage the bout through his Golden Boy Promotions, he has friends in high places as well as the crowd support likely to fill the American Airlines Arena

REMEMBER Welsh titles? Those fights, invariably thrillers, that used to decide the best boys on our patch?

It's a salutary fact that there have been only two such bouts in the past four years, both in the welterweight division.

In 2002 Keith Jones won the vacant belt by stopping Ross McCord in Swansea, and he lost it to Jason Williams, at Aberystwyth, early last year.

But now we could have another on the Joe Calzaghe-Glen Johnson bill at Cardiff International Arena on July 24 - and once more it would be at welterweight, with Williams defending against Newbridge's Bradley Pryce.

At least, that was the idea.

But - apart from the fact that the whole show is not yet guaranteed, with Johnson now claiming he has an offer to fight Roy Jones Jr, and lawyers on both sides getting involved - it appears that Williams feels he can no longer make 10st 7lb.

Although he was less than three pounds over that when stopped by James Hare at Bridgend in May, the Swansea man seems set to give up the belt to campaign at light-middle.

Promoters Sports Network are now looking for an alternative foe for Pryce.

The obvious choice would be former holder Jones, giving him a high-profile climax to his career with a title shot in his 100th fight.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 19, 2004
Words:492
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