Perseverance finally pays dividends as driven Lee proudly sits on top of the world

You would have to go a long way before you find anybody with a bad word to say about Andy Lee.

Perseverance finally pays dividends as driven Lee    proudly sits on top of the world

You would have to go even further to find somebody who was not touched by the weekend’s story of his remarkable victory in Vegas.

But what was so special about the night was not the fact Lee upset the odds to knock out the heavy favourite in style. Nor the fact that Matt Korobov is a former two-time amateur champion and an undefeated professional competing here as the ‘home’ fighter in the chief support on his Top Rank promoters’ card.

What made the weekend’s story so special is what Lee has had to do in order to get there.

Boxing is littered with wasted talent, gifted kids who breeze through the amateur ranks but fail to apply themselves as professionals.

Or those who believe their own hype after a string of wins in the paid brigade.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is a case in point. The son of the Mexican legend of the same name was always going to get a leg up when it came to boxing given his family heritage.

But Chavez has continually flattered to deceive — or worse. In March 2013, Chavez was fined €725,000 and banned for nine months for testing positive for marijuana.

That is why Lee’s defeat by the Mexican back in 2009 was so hard to stomach. The London-born southpaw, all hard work, determination and never-say-die, is almost the antithesis of Chavez.

The Mexican, meanwhile, has been accused of doing it because he’s got nothing better on.

Lee has quite literally stopped at nothing on his road to that title of his. He first donned the gloves as an eight-year-old down the road from his birthplace in Bow at the world-renowned Repton boxing club in London’s East End. Then, on moving to Ireland, he and his brothers got stuck in at Limerick’s St Francis ABC.

A stellar amateur career followed and it was his victory over Jesus Gonzalez in the 2002 World Junior Championships, where he won five times in a week, that got the ball rolling on his relationship with Emanuel Steward, whose interest was piqued by the Irish kid who beat his man.

That single win would lead to join Steward’s Kronk phenomenom in Detroit. A professional debut followed in 2006 which started a run of 28 wins in 29 outings, which led to that night in El Paso against Chavez.

That defeat was devastating enough for Lee, within a week of his 28th birthday, but the death of Steward some months later would hit him for six. He bid his mentor goodbye at the hospital.

But yet again he rebuilt, desperate to fulfil the burning desite to win that world title. Along came Adam Booth and he swapped the Motor City for Booth’s base in south London.

More victories followed as he rebuilt, but a series of mooted title fights, with the likes of Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin never materialised.

Lee was on the move again, as Booth decided to relocate to Monte Carlo. There are worse places to live but it meant more long spells away from his new wife.

But it all paid off. All the struggling, the moving around, the hill sprints and the diets. All of that made worth it by a single, measured extension of his right arm in Las Vegas.

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