Boxing star Andy Lee has been overwhelmed at the number of Irish fans set to travel to Manchester for his world title clash with Billy Joe Saunders.
The WBO middleweight world champion defends his title against the unbeaten Londoner in an Ireland versus England showdown and has been taken aback at the number of fans snapping up tickets for the October 10th Manchester Arena clash.
Masses of Irish supporters disappointed at not seeing their hero fight on home soil following the rescheduling of his Limerick bout due to illness are refusing to be deterred and are buying up tickets in massive numbers to make the trip across the Irish Sea.
“It doesn’t surprise me to hear that there is a massive contingent of fans coming over from Ireland because they always show tremendous support to me and other Irish sports people,” said Lee.
“I’m humbled at the response for tickets – it just goes to show the loyalty of Irish fans and their love for sport.
“It’s going to be like fighting at home when I’m in Manchester because of all the Irish in the arena. I know they’re going to make it a very hostile atmosphere for Billy Joe and I intend to repay them by making it a night not to forget – it’s going to be very special,” he said.
Together with the local diaspora the travelling contingent from Ireland will be loud and proud in another chapter of Irish-English sporting rivalry.
Lee isn’t going to let that faze him, however, and is focusing solely on taking care of a very dangerous Saunders, who he knows will be at his best.
“Billy Joe is a very talented fighter and I know that he’s going to leave it all in the ring on October 10th so you’ll see the best of me that night,” said Lee.
“I’ve been on this stage before and know what it’s like to be in world championship fights so I have that advantage against Saunders but in no way will I be underestimating him. There’s things he does well and things he doesn’t do so well – my job is to exploit those flaws.
“I’m preparing for 12 rounds but my record shows that I’m one of the biggest punchers in the middleweight division so I have that in my locker if I need to use it.
“I really believe this fight will be one to remember, because both of us can box and fight, but I am the one with the world class knockout power, and that will be the difference” Lee said.
The Lee-Saunders clash headlines a stunning triple world title fight card, with WBO lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan defending his belt against Diego Magdaleno and Liam Smith battling for the vacant WBO super-welterweight title against John Thompson.
Tickets for World War III: Lee v Saunders are priced at £40, £75, £125, £200, £300 and £500* and available now from www.frankwarren.com and Manchester Arena on 0844 847 8000.
The Channel Of Champions, BoxNation, will televise, live and exclusive on Sky 437/HD 490, Virgin 546 and Talk Talk 415. Subscribe at www.boxnation.com or watch online at Livesport.tv or via iPhone, iPad or Android.