By Padraig Ivory: Andy Lee may have returned from an America that was deep in economic turmoil, however he very nearly fell off his own’ Fiscal Cliff’ of sorts when he faced Anthony Fitzgerald on Saturday night. The fight was televised on the ‘Unfinished Business’ card on Sky Sports which was headlined by the European Super Bantamweight title clash between Carl Frampton and Kiko Martinez.
After a disappointing and emotional 2012 the Limerick native was back in Ireland looking to reinstate his middleweight credentials. Andy was entering a new phase in his career after the passing of his Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward. Manny was more than a boxing coach to the Irishman, he was a friend, a companion and an inspiration. As the infamous Kronk Gym closed its doors Lee had no option but to uproot his training base. The 2004 Olympian teamed up with Adam Booth in November as he began his career rehabilitation following a crushing loss to Julio Chavez Jr. in June 2012.
The former Detroit resident was keen to lay the foundations of a new campaign that would ultimately lead him to another world title attempt. Lee was looking to make a statement to his rivals by putting a solid performance together at the Odyssey Arena. What transpired however was a lacklustre, laborious 30 minutes of boxing that posed even more questions of the Irishman.
The ’Pride of Dublin’ was viewed as a low risk step back onto the domestic scene by Lee’s camp with bigger fights anticipated for later in the year. ‘Fitzey’ however had come prepared for battle, knowing that a victory over a name fighter like Andy Lee would elevate his status to new heights. The Crumlin based boxer came forward and forced his opponent onto the back foot, making Lee appear uncomfortable at times. There were some close rounds and Anthony done enough to win his share, however there was little argument about the decision as Lee claimed a 98-94 win. Fitzgerald had served Dublin well and he can take great satisfaction from his nights work.
In the post fight interview Lee admitted that his performance was far from his best and rightly gave credit to Fitzgerald who rose to the occasion and made sure his homecoming was far from pleasant. Andy went on to state his desire to fight Darren Barker in a middleweight showdown. ‘The Dazzler’ will seemingly have no problem accepting this proposal unless his promoter Eddie Hearn can secure a clash with Peter Quillin or one of the other champions in the interim.
Another middleweight ready to meet Lee in the ring is Matthew Macklin. Prior to his fight with Fitzgerald, Andy boldly stated that a bout with ‘Mack the Knife’ was one of the easier options available to him domestically. Macklin answered the call in true fighting spirit by offering Lee a stool in the opposite corner for his May 11th date with HBO. The’ Tipperary Tornado’ also questioned the motive behind Lee’s statement.
“I’ve already told Lou that I’m happy to take the fight so if Andy wants it all he has to do is call Lou and we can get it on. Otherwise he needs to stop talking about a fight he’s afraid to take and get on with his own career”.
Lee failed to impress the boxing world with his latest effort in the ring however he is making all the right noise outside of it. The fight with Macklin is definitely a runner with the fans and the fighters. As Lou Di Bella is the promotional boss of both parties there are apparently few obstacles to the bout.