LEGENDARY boxing coach Emanuel Steward has no fears that Andy Lee will be intimated by a hostile Mexican crowd as the Limerick boxer bids for a historic world title this weekend.
The Castleconnell southpaw, who celebrated his 28th birthday this Monday, faces champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in El Paso, Texas about 3am on Sunday morning.
The Limerick middleweight is challenging Chavez for his WBC world middleweight title and the title fight takes place just miles across the US border from the champion’s native Mexico.
Close to 30,000 Mexican fans are expected in the Sun Bowl for Chavez’s third world title defence.
“I think it’s a very exciting and hard fight,” said Steward, who once trained the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. for three consecutive junior welterweight world title fights in 1994.
“I think it will be a very tough fight. Chavez has developed into a real fighter. He’s become a serious fighter. He has very high energy in the ring. He cuts off the ring very well and smothers you. He gets inside and works the body like his daddy did, said Lee’s manager/trainer Steward.
“Him and Andy, they’re both big guys for middleweights, they’re both good punchers and they both get hit, which makes it a good fight,” said Steward, who has trained Lee over the last six years of his professional boxing career in the Kronk Gym in Detroit.
Even though Lee will be in hostile territory with a largely Mexican crowd, Steward is confident that Limerick can get a first ever world boxing champion.
“I feel very good about it,” he said.
“I know it’s not the ideal situation for us because everything is against Andy, but I have the confidence that he has the ability to score a knockout. We know what we’re going up against with the whole situation. But this is the type of opportunity we can’t pass up,” said Steward.
The 26-year-old Chavez is making his third defence, all in Texas.
He made his first defence in Houston by knocking out Peter Manfredo in the fifth round last November and he scored a unanimous decision against Marco Antonio Rubio at the Alamodome in San Antonio in February.
Chavez brings a record of just one defeat from 46 pro-fights into the fight, with 31 of his wins coming by way of knockout.
For his part, Lee’s record stands at 28 fights, with one defeat and all barring eight of his wins came with KOs.
Lee’s trainer is adamant that his training camp sparring with the likes of Brian Vera, Adonis Stevenson, Edwin Rodriguez and Donovan George are all aimed to hurt Chavez with power.
“If you could only see some of Andy’s sparring matches with Adonis. They’ve been incredible. Their rounds together have been more entertaining than almost everything you see on TV… Andy is easily the most accomplished fighter and probably the hardest puncher he’s ever had to meet,” said Steward.