Lee is best in the world, says legend Steward

ANDY LEE is the best middleweight boxer in the world and he is just a few bouts away from a world title fight according to the Limerick man’s legendary trainer, Emanuel Steward, who was speaking ahead of tonight’s battle for the vacant Irish super middleweight title with Jason McKay at the National Stadium.

Steward’s presence added an exciting dimension to yesterday’s weigh-in at the Burlington Hotel which attracted quite a gallery and presented Lee at his fighting best.

Irked by remarks at the press conference in Belfast midweek when he was described as a blown-up welterweight and told by McKay’s trainer, John Breen, that he had no heart and lacked stamina, he came out fighting, accusing Breen trying to get under his skin.

“I have always had a lot of respect for John. I have trained at his gym and we always had a good relationship but he questioned my heart and made it personal,” Lee said.

“Emanuel and myself handle ourselves with class, we talk well and we respect everybody. But he came up and he questioned my heart and he made the whole thing personal. It was like a fellow who has never eaten in a nice restaurant before — and he just walks in, insults everybody and embarrasses himself.

“We are here now and this will be just another fight on my resume after tomorrow night — albeit one I am taking very seriously — but on the grand scale of things it is just another fight.

“I have no qualms. Jason McKay is good fighter and he is coming to win.

If he beats me then he is the man on the up and I am on the slide.

“From that point of view it is his big chance and he will try to take it. I hope he does come to try to take it and not move around the ring and hold on like a lot of his fights. I hope he comes to try to win the title and not just go the distance because I am coming to win.

“After the first round or so I will have him sussed out and then I’ll start to operate. I fought some good guys in America — a lot of different styles — I have fought a lot of guys in their home towns. I fought in Germany twice, Vegas three times, New York twice and you are mostly fighting fellows from there. You are always fighting fellows who are emotionally charged up in front of their home fans and ready to fight.”

McKay will definitely ask some different questions of the Limerick southpaw. He is the same height — 6’2” — and his erect style is not what Lee is accustomed to. However Lee’s class and strength should prove critical in the middle rounds.

Yesterday Breen insisted that, even as an amateur, Lee had problems with stamina and McKay promised to test it to the limit tonight.

“If his heart is suspect we will see it when we get into the later rounds,” he said. “He said he was tired after the fight with Kieran Healy. But the pressure got to him that night. There will be a lot more pressure on him tomorrow night. Will he take the pressure? I don’t think so.”

Steward came to Lee’s defence.

“Everybody is speaking about Andy’s heart,” he said. “But he has had those fights as an amateur and then he travelled to America and fought undefeated fighters over there.

“It is amazing that anyone should question his heart. We have so much respect for Jason. As a matter of fact Andy always said that of all the middleweights in Ireland he felt that Jason was the best one.

“We have looked at the video and we have looked at him as being a very good boxer, a very intelligent guy. We have a little more respect for him than he has for us.”

Breen insisted that all the talk about a world title fight was a bit premature and that McKay would have a major say on the matter.

“In fact Andy is taking a big gamble by fighting Jason right now,” he said.

“I am confident Jason will win this one.”

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