By David Hennessy
Speaking to the Irish World while in London for a press conference ahead of his title defence, WBO Middleweight champion of the World Andy Lee said that having worked so hard to get to where he is, he has no intention of giving it up.
Speaking at the Grosvenor House Hotel last Wednesday, the London-born Limerick pugilist said: “I’ve had to work hard to get where I am now, I won’t be willing to be give it up easy.”
Lee won his belt in Las Vegas last year at the age of 30, beating Matt Korobov in Las Vegas. Hotly tipped ever since he was a young fighter, Andy challenged for WBC belt in 2012. In this, his first world title shot, the referee stopped the fight in round 7 with Lee ahead on judges’ cards.
Asked if his success is sweeter for coming now, Lee says: “I was really on the fast track to stardom early in my career but things never happened. Had I got it then, it wouldn’t have lasted because it would have come too soon and gone too soon. I’ve had to work hard to get where I am now and I know everything that has gone into it, I won’t be willing to be give it up easy so I think I can appreciate it a lot more because I know how hard it is to get there.”
The 31-year-old champ also spoke of his gratitude to the London-Irish community for their support, how he can appreciate his success more than if it had come earlier in his career and how a whole new generation of fighters from the travelling community are set to follow him and cousin Tyson Fury.
Lee fights undefeated Billy Joe Saunders on September 19 in Thomond Park and also revealed he is keen for Ireland’s female world champion Katie Taylor to be a part of the occasion’s undercard.
Lee, who lives in Dublin, will prepare for his next fight in Surrey. Is the Bow-born fighter aware of his support in the London-Irish community? “Sometimes, I’m not very active in the Irish community here in London and that’s something I would like to be more involved in. The odd time you go into a shop or into an Irish pub, they would say ‘it’s great to see you here’ and ‘thanks for coming in’. It’s a great feeling, especially when you’re away from home, a little bit of home. I have a lot of friends here, friends who moved here for work when things went bad in Ireland and have stayed here so it’s good, I have a lot of support here and I’m very grateful for it.”
Andy’s cousin Tyson Fury fights Wladimir Klitschko for his five Heavyweight belts on October 24. Lee says: Wladimir is a very good friend of mine, I’m still in touch with him from training with Emmanuel Steward. Tyson is a relation of mine and a close friend too so I have to sit on the fence on the fight really.
“It will be an exciting fight and I think Tyson will be able to do a lot more to Wladimir than any of his other opponents so I think Wladimir’s in for a real fight.”
On the possibility of having two champions in the family, Lee laughs: “He’ll take all my fun though if he wins it.”
Andy Lee defends his title against Billy Joe Saunders at Thomond Park on September 19. Tickets are available from the Box Office on 08442491000 and online at www.eventim.co.uk.