Broner aims to KO Rees in AC on Feb. 16

We fightwriters and many of the fans out there who see Adrien Broner as a special talent are eager to test him out against the pound-for-pound aces in the game.

How about Broner vs. Floyd Mayweather, I asked a couple months back, when Broner was in NYC for a luncheon at HBO, who televises the Cincy lightweight's bouts.

Bring Mayweather on, if the money's right, Broner (25-0, 21 KOs, nicknamed "The Problem") replied.

That could come to fruition, I suppose, in a year or so, but for right now, the 25-0 pugilist is still taking incremental steps up the ladder.

Gavin Rees, a 32-year-old Brit with a 37-1-1 (18 KOs) record, is set to face off with the WBC lightweight champion Broner on Feb. 16 in Atlantic City. Rees represents another step, or maybe a half step, up the ladder for Broner. The scrap at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall will be promoted by Golden Boy and televised on HBO.

Something of a big deal in the UK, Rees has fought every bout as a pro over there, and it remains to be seen if he is any better than the last man Broner mopped up in AC, Antonio Demarco.

I asked Broner's trainer, Mike Stafford, how he assesses Rees.

"I've seen a couple his fights. He tries to be durable, hang in there, fight with his head, tries to use his low center of gravity," Stafford said of Rees. "We will fight our way, take over the fight. People go in, try to figure us out. We'll come in being the dominant fighter."

So, really, how good is Rees? "Well, he's a champ over there," said Stafford, with political deftness.

I suspect Broner takes out the Brit quicker than he did Demarco (Round 8). Does Stafford share my take? "We're hoping to do that," he said. "He might be tougher than Demarco ... but we're not going to let up on him. We might take him out in Round 1, 2, 3, 4. ... The only one can beat Broner is Broner."

Stafford, who leaves a four-week camp in Colorado Springs with Broner on Monday, knows many of us think highly of Broner's skills and want to see him truly tested. The trainer said Team Broner wanted a better Brit, 35-2 Ricky Burns, who holds the WBO lightweight crown, but Burns didn't want to partake. If Burns beats Miguel Vazquez, the IBF lightweight champ on March 16 in London, maybe Broner gets the winner.

And while we talk possible fights, could there be a bang-up closeout bout to finish 2013, one that takes Broner to the next level and puts the indelible stamp on him as one of the two or three heirs apparent to drive the sport when Floyd and Manny Pacquiao exit?

Prodded for a suggestion, Stafford said Team Broner would like a crack at future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez, who turns 40 in August, is likely headed to a career best payday in a fifth fight with Pacquaio, who he dropped and stopped in Round 6 of their Dec. 8 Las Vegas clash.

"I think Marquez is beatable. I think they all are at 140," Stafford said, "and I think he'd take the fight if the money's right. It would be like Danny Garcia fighting Erik Morales; he got a chance to fight a future Hall of Famer."

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