ANDY LEE: The road to redemption goes through Belfast

Tomorrow night in Belfast I will step back into the ring and start a new phase of my career. I’m facing Anthony Fitzgerald from Dublin.

For me, this fight is the opportunity to get back to winning ways, to showcase the skills I’ve been learning over the last few months with Adam Booth. I know winning this fight will lead to bigger fights against the top middleweights in Ireland and Britain — Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker and Martin Murray.

For my opponent, the fight represents his chance at the big time. For the last few years he’s been eager to prove he belongs in middleweight mix with myself, Macklin, Barker and Murray. I know this because he’s been quite vocal in saying he wants to fight me in particular.

For the last four weeks of camp we’ve been training in Coulsdon, Surrey. It’s beautiful here and it’s a welcome break from the busy streets of London. I’ve actually been living on a farm, in an old Granary the owner converted into a modern apartment. It’s quiet and I’ve been able to train without any distractions.

Adam Booth is a coach who demands the most from his boxers. Along with coach Paddy Fitzpatrick and conditioning coach Darren Chan, I was really put through my paces in camp.

Every day I enter the gym I know I will be challenged physically and technically. Whatever I do physically, whether it be bag drills, an upper body circuit, leg circuit, treadmill sprints or core work, everything is timed and measured with the expectation I better it in the next session. The technical side of training has been just as demanding. Hours were spent in the mirror shadow boxing and on the pads repeating combinations, head movement and foot work until perfect. It took time to adapt to some of the technical tweaks Adam was making to my fighting style but over the last month things started to click. My dad came to watch my last sparring session at the weekend and he remarked at the difference in the way I was fighting.

I sparred with Commonwealth super middleweight champion, George Groves and very tough light heavyweight Sergej Rozvadovskij.

The sparring between myself and George is very tactical, very precise like a chess match. You have to be careful when sparring him not to make a mistake because you know you will be punished if you do. Sergej on the other hand is the complete opposite. No matter what I hit him with he keeps coming forward, pressurising, throwing hard combinations. The man is a machine.

In between all the hard work, there is always plenty of banter going on. They’re a good bunch of people I train with and we have a good atmosphere that makes going into the gym everyday easier.

People often ask me how I feel going into a fight. Nervous? It might seem strange but no. The best way to describe it is a feeling of readiness. I know exactly what I have to do to win. I’ve studied Fitzgerald’s fights long and hard. I know his style. I’ve worked on combinations and moves to nullify anything he can do in the ring. I also have the confidence of knowing I’ve put the work in. Now there is nothing left to do but fight.

Fitzgerald has been wanting to fight me for some time. Well now he has his chance.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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