Andy Lee decided to postpone a proposed homecoming world title defence in Ireland because victory in New York over Peter Quillin will transform him into a “global star”.
Lee upset the odds in Las Vegas in December when he stopped Russian Matt Korobov to claim the vacant World Boxing Organisation middleweight title on an emotional night at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
It was suggested that the Limerick man would make the first defence of his title in Ireland this spring, but he has instead opted to get back on the road and face ‘Kid Chocolate’ Quillin.
The pair clash at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn on April 11 and Lee says the decision to fight Stateside once again was a relatively easy one.
“Hopefully if this fight goes well then afterwards that homecoming fight could happen,” he said.
“But this opportunity: financially it was a very good decision to me but also for boxing reasons. Beating Quillin will catapult me – make me into one of the stars of boxing.
“I could’ve fought in Ireland, chosen the opponent and beaten someone comfortably. But if I fight and beat Peter in New York I will be a global star. People will need to acknowledge what I’ve been doing. It’s a great opportunity to fight in America, on national TV and it takes me to the next level.
“If I had fought in Ireland it would’ve been a good thing of course and it still will be one day. But you don’t know how long your career will be and I had to take it and I have no regrets.”
As usual, Lee is doing his training under the watchful eye of Adam Booth at his training base in Beausoleil in the south of France.
But that meant his St Patrick’s Day went by without a celebration this year.
He said: “Unfortunately no, there was no celebration this year. I seem to be fighting around St Patrick’s Day so I never get to celebrate. But there will be plenty of time for that when I retire.”
Of France, he added: “Since my last fight I’ve been back in the gym since January 12. I didn’t take much time off over Christmas. I came right back and continued working on the same things since before the Korobov fight.
“I’m in good shape and I’m being pushed very hard. We’re here in France and its a beautiful place. The sun is shining and you’re looking into the ocean. It’s a great motivator when you go to the gym.”
But Lee will be facing a man possessed in Brooklyn with Quillin fighting in memory of his uncle, Eric Munson, who died five weeks ago.
Munson was like a father figure to Quillin after his father went to jail and he succumbed to cancer while his nephew was a week into his training camp. Undefeated Quillin said: “He was the most important person to me in my whole life and it’s the first time I’ve ever lost anybody close to me.
“I saw him the week before I started camp and I saw him fighting on his deathbed with cancer. I saw him fight through that until he had nothing left in the tank to fight with.
“That showed me the fight is all in your head. There’s no cancer here so I have to do what’s its worth while I’m still here on this earth.
“I couldn’t attend his funeral because I was here in camp. My family told me he would’ve wanted me to stay in camp. I knew he was proud of me. I’m highly motivated for this fight.
“I’m going to let Andy have the pressure on him to perform like the champion. I had that pressure but now I have pressure of being a challenger.”
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