Andy Lee might have only found out about tonight’s fight on Tuesday, but the Limerick middleweight believes it could be a career-altering evening in his quest to become world champion.
The 29-year-old takes on Ferenc Hafner as part of a stacked undercard for the super-middleweight clash between Carl Froch and George Groves at the Manchester Arena. And, incredibly, it will be Lee’s first outing as a professional in England.
For the most part, his previous 32 fights have taken place in America, where he trained under the legendary Emmanuel Steward, and Ireland, where his family moved when he was 13, and Lee feels a general lack of exposure to the English market has held him back.
“This is the one where if I look good, it will create a demand to see me again,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“My trainer Adam Booth rang me in the evening and asked if I was ready for a fight on Saturday. I said, ‘of course, what card?’ Then he told me it was the Froch-Groves bill and I couldn’t believe it.
“It was a no-brainer for me. This could be so important for my career. A good performance will put me at the forefront of minds.
“A lot of people have heard of me but have never seen me fight. I’m looking forward to showing what I can do, this is my chance. I always watch the shows on Sky and think, ‘jeez, I’m so much better than everybody there’. Now it’s my time to prove it and put on a show.”
Along with IBF middleweight champion Darren Barker, fellow Irishman Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray, Lee is one quarter of a burgeoning rivalry, which, as he puts it, is starting to come to a head. But while Barker might hold the belt, it is a showdown with Macklin that Lee is most interested in securing.
“We’re all moving closer together and rightly so because people want to see the fights,” he said. The four of us have always been compared to each other — there’s an argument for all of us about who is the best — let’s see. I don’t fear any of them and would fight them all.
“I certainly want to fight Matt Macklin next year, that is without doubt. There is talk of it being in Dublin in March on St Patrick’s Day. That would be ideal, people in Ireland want the fight and the demand has been growing for years. It is time to have the fight now, the winner can then move on to bigger and better things.
“He has stated on numerous occasions, in every single interview he says it, how he’s supposedly better than me and the others. In a sense he’s looking down on me. It gets on my nerves and it motivates me. I can’t wait to prove him wrong.
“Not in America late at night, on home soil, in the flesh. It should be in Ireland and I’ll smash him. But I’ve got to make a big impression here first, then think about what is next.”
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