ANDY Lee is champion of the world.
The 30 year old Limerickman claimed the WBO World Middleweight Title just after 4.30am in the early hours of Sunday morning when a crashing right hook and a flurry of almost 20 punches forced referee Kenny Bayless to stop the fight in The Chelsea arena in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.
Lee was behind with all three judges before his crashing punch brought an early end to the contest and saw Lee claim the WBO belt after victory over Matt Korobov.
The former star St Francis Boxing Club amateur dedicated the victory to his late mentor Emanuel Steward.
Now in his eighth year as a professional boxer and this was Lee’s second world title fight - in June 2012 he lost to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Texas.
Just seconds after being held aloft in the ring, Lee declared he wants to defend his world title in Ireland.
“I am a champion and I want to defend my belt in Ireland and I will fight the best in the world,” said jubilant Lee.
“I have to say a thank you to this man, my coach Adam Booth, who has done so much for me in the last couple of years - this title is for him before also for the man who made me Emanual Steward. I lived with him for 7-8 years and learned so much from him. He said I would win a world title and tonight I made him true,” said an emotional Lee.
What of his winning punch?
“My right hook is a killer punch - I thought he was gone down but I made sure and wasn’t taking any chances and I just threw hell for leather and got him out of there. God blessed me with a right hook - I can’t take too much credit!”
Lee paid tribute to his fans for the support during the opening five rounds when Korobov was bossing from the inside and throwing the majority of the punches.
“Matt Korobov was giving me a nightmare - I was getting hit pretty hard in there but I could hear the cheers from my friends in Detroit, from my friends in New York and from Limerick,” said Lee.
The KO success makes Andy Lee the first Irishman to win a world title bout in the US since 1934.