World title defence in Thomond would be ‘dream come true’ for Lee

It is said the mark of a true champion is an amalgam of excellence, respect, and humility.

World title defence in Thomond would be ‘dream come true’ for Lee

Andy Lee demonstrated the first in Las Vegas with devastating effect in the early hours of Sunday, when he was crowned middleweight boxing champion of the world.

And he ticked the other two boxes with gracious aplomb during a rapturous homecoming to Limerick yesterday where he was greeted by hundreds of people in driving rain and accorded a civic reception by Limerick City and County Council.

He modestly remarked: “Boxing is an individual sport, but success in boxing is down to a lot of people who help that person. And I want to get around thank all those people who helped me.”

And he admitted he has his own special Limerick sports hero. “Paul O’Connell is the ultimate professional. He is an ambassador for Limerick, not just for rugby, but for all sports. I always watch him and listen to his interviews. People say he is intense. He is passionate and I can relate to that.”

Lee’s manager, Adam Booth, revealed a little diversion was taken on the way from Shannon to the city centre celebration.

Mr Booth said: “It’s Andy’s ultimate dream to defend his title in Limerick and, on our way here, we went to Thomond Park. It’s an incredible stadium.”

Lee said plans for a summer title fight at Thomond have already commenced. He said: “Adam is working on it and making plans, so that would be another dream come true.”

Lee said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he got at Shannon and in Limerick. “Even on the Aer Lingus flight the cabin crew and the other passengers were just fantastic. It’s been a while since I have been back to Limerick but it’s like I never left. Just the warmth and the feeling I get here. I was blown away. I don’t know of any champion who came home to a reception like the one I got at Shannon and Limerick today. I am very grateful to all the people who came out to welcome me home.”

Over 150 fans, led by Andy’s mother Ann, greeted the new champ at Shannon.

Thousands more gathered in the rain at Limerick City Hall where he was received by the Mayor, Cllr Kevin Sheahan who said: “Andy, you now join an elite group of Irish boxers who are, today, household names.

“People such as Bernard Dunne, Barry McGuigan and, of course, Katie Taylor. When you claimed the world title, the people of Castleconnell, Limerick and Ireland celebrated another milestone moment in Irish sport. Your victory has cemented your place in Irish boxing history.

“It is well known at the St Francis Boxing Club here in Limerick, where you developed your love for boxing, that you had the ability, temperment and ambition to succeed. Today, we celebrate the incredible achievement of one of our own and in doing so we congratulate all of those who contributed to your world title success.”

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