By Steve Mabbott: #7 WBC, #9 WBA middleweight contender Andy Lee (28-2, 20 KO’s) will be returning to the ring on February 9th after a seven month layoff to face Anthony Fitzgerald (13-3, 4 KO’s) at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lee, 28, hasn’t fought since being stopped by former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last June at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
The 6’2” Lee wants to put that loss behind him and move forward with his boxing career. He thinks if he can pick up three quick wins over quality opposition he can be fighting for a world title in the near future. Lee will obviously have to be much more selective in who he faces for a world title this time because he doesn’t match up well against the current WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
The 27-year-old Fitzgerald shouldn’t be any threat to beating Lee. He’s not a pressure fighter like the guys that Lee tends to have problems. Fitzgerald lost his last fight to Eamonn O’Kane by a 3 round split decision earlier this year in May.
Also on the Lee-Fitzgerald card is EBU super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez defending his European Boxing Union 122 pound title against Carl Frampton. There’s also Martin Lindsay vs. Lee Selby. It’s a really good card and it should be interesting.
Lee’s loss to Chavez Jr. was the result of a number of factors starting with the small ring, which gave Lee very little room to try and escape from Chavez Jr’s pressure. For whatever reason, Lee failed to listen to the instructions being given to him by his then trainer Emanuel Steward, who continually told Lee to stop slugging with the much bigger Chavez Jr. Lee failed to listen and he kept fighting a toe-to-toe battle with Chavez Jr. until he was ultimately taken out by the tough Mexican brawler in the 7th round. Another problem that Lee had against Chavez Jr. was the weight difference.
Chavez Jr. was a heavier fighter, and he was able to use that extra weight to maul the slender Lee every time they got close. Lee made it easy for Chavez Jr. by fighting against the ropes and fighting in a stationary manner. Lee may have done this out of necessity because he doesn’t seem to have the wheels to be able to move around the ring very much without tiring out fairly quickly. When Lee does move for any length of time, they look rubbery, like he’s overstressed them.