Andy Lee could fight in Ireland later this year

Jerome O'Connell


Jerome O'Connell


Andy Lee could fight in Ireland later this year

ANDY Lee could be set to fight in Ireland later this year.

Limerick’s former WBO middleweight champion returned to the ring after a 15-month absence on Saturday night with a unanimous decision win over American KeAndre Leatherwood in Madison Square Garden.

Afterwards the 32 year old Castleconnell man revealed that his wife Maud was expecting their first baby in June and that he therefore won’t fight again until at least September.

“I’ll just relax,” said Lee of his plans in the coming months.

“I’m going home and the first baby is on the way – in June. I’ll just look forward to that, enjoy it and I’ll be back in the gym in September and I hope to fight (around then), maybe in Ireland,” said the former St Francis Boxing Club Olympian.

Boxing on the under card of Gennady Golovkin’s world middleweight title defence against Daniel Jacobs, Lee edged Saturday’s tentative comeback fight with the judges scoring the eight round contest, 80-72, 78-74, 79-73.

“It’s always good to come back to New York and it’s always a pleasure to fight here. It took me a while to get going but he was a tough and awkward opponent. He stayed in his shell and he wouldn’t really open up and I could see he was very wary of my right hook,” outlined Lee in his dressing room at the famed New York venue.

The Limerick southpaw was returning to the ring for the first time in 15-months and boxed out of the red corner, wearing black trunks.

The last time the Limerick southpaw fought at Madison Square Garden, he floored John Jackson with a fifth-round knockout in June 2014 on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez under card but there was no such drama this time round for Lee.

The opening three rounds were very cautious as Lee found his feet back in the ring. As the fight progressed he produced some nice combinations without ever dominating his American opponent but clearly won the final number of rounds.

Lee hadn’t boxed since his December 2015 title loss to Billy Joe Saunders in Manchester – the break his longest since turning professional over a decade ago.

While Lee just passed the 11th anniversary of the first of his 39 professional bouts (just three defeats), his 28 year old opponent was fighting for the 24th time.

“He was protecting that side all the time, but it took me a while to get into it. Around rounds four, five and six, I was good… and then towards the end I knew he kind of just wanted to coast and try to go the distance,” said Lee.

“​It was hard to fight and engage with somebody who’s not trying to fight you back and he had fast hands so I could’ve tried to force to press the issue, but then I would have end up getting caught with silly punches, which happened at times, because he had quick enough hands.”

He added: “Yeah, I think there was a bit of ring rust, but I was just getting back into it”.

“It’s been a long time - I’ve been completely out of boxing for a year, I was at home and I wasn’t in the gym, but it’s good to be back and I think the rounds will stand to me more than if I had finished him in a round,” he said, who fought in the same venue that 24-hours previous saw Michael Conlan make a winning professional debut.