The Limerick southpaw was having only his third contest since the Olympic Games in Athens when he outpointed Hugh Joyce from Athy in the semi-finals a week ago and admitted afterwards that ne needed the competition.
“You can have the best of spars, but you need the rounds,” he said.
Tonight he will be looking into a familiar face when he touches gloves with Eamon O’Kane from the St. Canice’s Club in Derry who outpointed Keith Whelan (St. Paul’s, Waterford) to claim his place in the finals.
“I have boxed him twice before and he was the only boxer who really gave me problems here,” said Lee.
Lee always brings plenty of support with him from the St. Francis club in Limerick and tonight they will have two representatives in action.
Former intermediate champion Jimmy Moore has finally made it through to the finals of the light-flyweight division and boxed extremely well last Friday night to outpoint Paddy Barnes from the Holy Family/Golden Gloves club.
Moore (25) was having his first contest in more than a year after taking a year off to go to Australia. But he faces an enormous task tonight against Conor Ahern (Baldoyle), who was brought into the High Performance squad by Gary Keegan without actually having won a senior title. He fought a number of internationals early on and won a medal in the multi-nations tournament in Cork before winning his first senior title.
With some boxers having left for greener pastures, others switching divisions and Henry Coyle suffering a shock defeat at the talented hands of Karl Brabazon (St. Saviour’s) last week, seven new champions will be crowned tonight.
Brabazon will be in action against a talented youngster from Portlaoise, Oisin Kelly, in the welterweight final.
This could be a difficult one to call following Kelly’s defeat of Roy Sheahan, a former finalist, on a countback last week. But Brabazon was so impressive when stripping Coyle of the title that he must be the slight favourite.
Set to retain their titles are light-heavyweight champion, Kenneth Egan from Neilstown, unless fellow Dubliner Darren O’Neill (Paulstown) can pull out something special, and heavyweight Alan Reynolds who renews rivalry with Ian Timms (St. Matthews).
And there will be a huge interest in David Oliver Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy), who produced one of the most exciting performances of the night to outclass John Cooley (St. Joseph’s, Derry) last weekend and qualify for his first senior final against Antrim bantamweight, Shaun McKim.
Stephen Ormond (St. Matthews) has moved up a division in recent times and will seek another title at lightweight against young Dean Murphy (St. Saviours OBA), while Eamon Touhey (Moate), who was just 17 when he contested his first senior final, will box the talented Eric Donovan (St. Michael’s, Athy), the bantamweight champion who has moved up a division and will be red hot favourite.
48kg Light Flyweight: J. Moore (St. Francis, Limerick) v. C. Ahern (Baldoyle); 51kg Flyweight: D. Thorpe (St. Aidans, Ferns) v. C. Frampton (Midland, White City); 54kg Bantamweight: D. O. Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy) v. S. McKim (Abbey, Antrim); 57kg Featherweight: E. Donovan (St. Michael’s, Athy) v. E. Touhey (Moate); 60kg Lightweight: D. Murphy (St. Saviours) v. S. Ormond (St. Matthews); 64kg Light Welterweight: K. Boyle (St. Saviours OBA) v. D. Joyce (St. Michael’s, Athy); 69kg Welterweight: K. Brabazon (St. Saviours OBA) v. O. Kelly (Portlaoise); 75kg Middleweight: A. Lee (St. Francis, Limerick) v. E. O’Kane (St. Canice’s); 81kg Light Heavyweight: K. Egan (Neilstown) v. D. O’Neill (Paul Town); 91kg Heavyweight: A. Reynolds (Ballina) v. I. Tims (St. Matthews); 91+kg Super Heavyweight: S. Belshaw (City of Lisburn) v. C. McMonagle (Holy Trinity).