Andy Lee title defence: Billy Joe Saunders is one of the hardest opponents I could face now
WBO World middleweight champion Andy Lee has paid tribute to his opponent Billy Joe Saunders by describing the English fighter as one of the best in the world in their weight category.
Lee will put his crown on the line against undefeated southpaw in Thomond Park on September 19 and both fighters lavished praise on each other at today's press conference.
The 2004 Olympian says he cannot wait to fulfil his dreams by defending his title in his home city.
"As soon as I won the world title fight in December, my thoughts turned to defending it in Thomond Park," he said.
"It's a global event, and it's great to be bringing it to my city. It's going to be a very special night."
The fight will be Saunders' eighth fight in Ireland and he has yet to taste defeat, with Lee under no illusions at the task at hand.
"I'm fighting one of the best middleweights in the world. He's been a contender for a while, he's waited his time and it's going to be a fantastic event."
Saunders, who will be the fourth unbeaten fighter in-a-row that Lee has fought, said he has fought in other stadia, but the home of Munster Rugby has a "special" feeling he admitted today.
Saunders praised the Olympian and world champion and Lee was asked if the good feeling and level of respect between the pair would continue until the bout.
"Well we are still 10 weeks from the fight, so who knows," the 31-year-old joked. "I have a lot of respect for him. It's going to be a long, hard fight and he will take a lot of beating. His strength is his passion and how much he wants the fight."
The capacity of Thomond Park will be increased to 34,000 for the battle of the southpaws.