LIMERICK pro-boxer Andy Lee hopes to put himself in position for a world title fight when he steps into the ring for his 26th time this weekend.
The Castleconnell 26 year old middleweight face Scotland’s Craig McEwan in the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, USA.
The fight is on the undercard of Sergio Martinez’s world title defence against Serhiy Dzinziruk.
Indeed the winner of the Lee v McEwan fight is all but guaranteed to face the winner of the Martinez v Dzinziruk for a world title.
Both fights will be shown live on Setanta Ireland with coverage commencing at 2am in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lee was initially to face fellow Irish-man John Duddy but the Derry native shocked everyone by announcing his retirement.
Unbeaten Scottish boxer Craig McEwan (19-0, 10KOs) stepped into the breach for the pre-St Patricks Day televised bout.
California based McEwan is trained by Freddie Roach.
The 28 year old, McEwan was born in Edinburgh – he had a long and distinguished amateur career totalling an impressive 376 fights, winning 10 gold medals in international tournaments. On two occasions he has represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games, winning a bronze medal in 2002, after which he turned professional.
“This is a very important fight for me and something I will be totally focused for. I know Craig’s style quite well, a tall technical boxer with a
snappy right jab. He is someone with a good work rate in the ring in and he is an effective switch hitter. I beat him as an amateur in 2005 and I am determined to beat him again as a pro on March 12,” said Andy Lee of his hugely important fight.
“I see the fight being a tactical bout early on. I’m the stronger of the two so I will definitely use my physical strength to my advantage in regards to keeping him off me and hopefully I can wear him down and get a stoppage later on the fight. In my eyes, I know I’m going to win the fight and I’m prepared for a tough, hard fight,” outlined Lee.
The importance of this weekend’s fight is certainly not lost on Lee.
“With the fight being on HBO and the fight giving me a big marketing exposure. I did fight on some big stages against fighters who were talented, but I would have to say that this fight will be my toughest fight. There is always pressure going into the fight because you don’t want to lose. You have two young up-and-coming fighters going head to head against each other. I think there is always pressure, but it’s something you get used to and all you can do is focus on the fight.”
He continued: “The winner of this fight will be in line for a title fight down the line. This is a big fight and I know what’s at stake. I’m relaxed and I’m watching movies. I have the fight planned out in my mind and I have a regime that I go through in the dressing room. I’m relaxed”.
To-date Lee has claimed 24 wins from 25 pro-fights, (18 KOs), and is hoping that a win in Connecticut will be the springboard to a world title shot this year.
The only professional defeat for Lee came in March 2008 when he lost out to Brian Vera.
Vera is an opponent common to both Lee and McEwan. Back in May 2009, McEwan scored a 10-round decision win against Vera. This weekend’s fight is probably Lee’s biggest fight since that Vera loss - which was also televised across the US.
“I had him hurt in the first and I went all out to finish him and ended up punching myself out. Now, I’ve matured and improved my defence a lot; that’s what I learned from the Vera fight,” explained the Limerick man.
Lee is still managed and trained by the world famous Emanuel Steward from his Kronk Gym in Detroit.
However Steward won’t be ringside for Lee on March 12.
Steward also trains Miguel Cotto and on the same night he defends his world title in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Any time you have Emanuel in your corner, it’s a big bonus. Jalen Hill will be working my corner the night of the fight. Jalen and Emanuel have been around each other their whole life and they both have the same outlook on the sport of boxing. We all know the game plan and I’m very comfortable having Jalen in my corner,” he said.
The former St Francis Boxing Club Olympian prepared for the McEwan fight at a training camp in Florida with Steward and Cotto.
“We’re narrowing training down a little bit. I’ve been sparring with Demetrius Andrade and Mark Tucker; a lot of good sparring work I’ve been getting and I’m looking forward to the fight.”
Lee hasn’t fought since last October when he defeated Troy Lowry for his 9th successive win.