Lee poised for world title shot at Martinez

ANDY LEE could be fighting for a world title in his next bout as he is being lined up for a showdown with the WBC world middleweight champion, Sergio Gabriel Martinez.

Martinez’s promoter, Lou DiBella, confirmed the 26-year-old Limerick southpaw is the leading candidate to fight the champion, revealing that dates and venues have been discussed.

He said: “The most likely date is Saturday, March 12, because we want to tie it in with the St Patrick’s Day celebrations over here. New York — and therefore Madison Square Garden — would be the most likely venue but if we’re to get New York, we have to lock up the deal very quickly. Andy Lee would be the logical choice for this fight.”

Lee was scheduled to box Daniel Ubranksi from Poland on the undercard to Wladimir Klitschko’s defence of his IBF and WBO world titles against British challenger, Dereck Chisora in Mannheim tonight. That fight was called off when the champion damaged a back muscle in training.

Lee’s manager and trainer, Emanuel Steward, confirmed discussions are at an advanced stage with the Martinez camp. Steward said: “We are close to completing a deal with Martinez’s people. I have no doubt Andy with his great boxing skills will beat Sergio Gabriel Martinez and then, hopefully, he could make a voluntary defence in an all-Irish fight with John Duddy or Matthew Macklin.”

Lee is relishing a crack at the champion: “It’s great news. I’m disappointed the Mannheim fight is off. I have the (Brian) Vera fight in less than two months but if the Martinez world title challenge comes off, the Vera fight will fall by the wayside.”

Martinez, also a southpaw, has not been beaten since he was stopped by the future three-time world champion, Antonia Margarito, in Las Vegas three years into his professional career. He will be 37 in February.

Meanwhile European middleweight champion Matt Macklin wants a crack at Martinez. “I’ve followed his career since he beat Richard Williams and Adrian Stone at light-middleweight over here a few years ago. He’s a great fighter, and I’m not going to say that I’d smash him to pieces or anything like that but I would be confident of beating him.”

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