Bradley Rea returns to the ring this Saturday against Lee Cutler after a frustrating long year away
Britain’s first world title fight of 2021 will be contested between Hackney’s very own Lawrence Okolie as he takes on Polish contender Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO World Cruiserweight title this Saturday, live on Sky Sports under Matchroom Boxing.
However, eyes looked to be set at another mouth-watering contest between two unbeaten British competitors contesting at middleweight, as Bradley Rea (9-0, 3KOs) and Lee Cutler (7-0, 4KOs) look to take each other’s undefeated record to propel them into an exciting year forward.
Promoter Eddie Hearn believes, “This is a massive chance for either fighter,” as Rea fights in this second televised appearance under the Matchroom banner.
The 23-year-old spoke exclusively to BBN's Taylor Catton at the start of fight week: “I think on paper it is a 50/50 fight, obviously I am confident I am going to get the win, but I know Lee, he is a good fighter. So, it is going to be the best man wins on the night, but I am confident that it’s going to be me.
“He is a bit shorter than me, and I am quite big at the weight. He can do a bit of everything, he can box well, he can fight, he’s strong and he can punch, so there is a lot to his game. I know it is going to be a hard night, but as I have said before, I am confident I am going to win.”
It has been nothing more than frustration for the Manchester-born fighter since his last bout on March 7th, 2020 when he outpointed Pavol Garaj on the undercard of Scott Quigg’s defeat to Jono Carroll.
Missed fortunes, national lockdowns and inactivity halted the progression of Rea as he looked to kick on from his first big fight in front of thousands of people as boxing and the entire world grounded to a standstill because of the pandemic.
“Yeah, it has been hard, it’s been really frustrating. I think every boxer will say they have had ups and downs. It’s hard to stay motivated and keep training when you know you haven’t got anything to aim for, it is really difficult.
“I struggled during the first lockdown. When boxing did come back, and nothing was coming up, it was disheartening, but my frame of mind was that if I weren’t ready and something come up, I would absolutely kick myself, so I just had to be prepared.”
He added, “I was very lucky to get the fight [Garaj] because it was the last show before Covid. I was gutted because Eddie said if I have a good performance in my last fight on the Scott Quigg bill, then he would put me on a few weeks later on the Whyte vs Povetkin show, so I was quite gutted about that.
“I was hoping that another good performance on that bill and they could possibly sign me up to Matchroom and box on their shows regularly.
“On the one hand, I was happy to get the fight before everything shut down, but on the other, I was gutted because it was a massive opportunity coming up for me.”
His latest bout against Cutler will be a milestone fight for the middleweight as the 20th of March marks his 10th contest in the paid ranks, first eight-rounder, and first time fightng outside of his surrounding area as he heads down to the capital with a win providing a potential route to more exciting contests, perhaps involving titles, in the future.
The Bournemouth-born fighter will be Rea’s first opponent that he has faced in his professional career with a clean record, and the 25-year-old has stopped three of his last five foes. A win on Saturday night could throw either of the challenger’s name in the mix for potential British and English title fights come the end of the year.
This will be a new experience for the unbeaten boxer whilst fighting in the temporarily new world of boxing without fans, ahead of entering 'The Bubble' on Wednesday. Nevertheless, Rea is confident that he can adjust to new surroundings and get the job done on Saturday night whilst hoping to extend his undefeated record.
“I do not think it will make a massive difference with me because of my mentality, once I am in the ring, that’s it then it's tunnel vision and focus, but I guess you do not really know until on the night how it is going to affect you. It will be strange not having my fans there, but I think I will adapt to it.
“I have boxed in front of thousands of people and I have boxed in front of about 10 people, it is just one of them things, once you are in the ring, it doesn’t really matter who is there.”