Saturday 16 December 2017

Lee on track for victory

Andy plans to win despite losing home advantage

WBO world champion Andy Lee, right, alongside his trainer Adam Booth
WBO world champion Andy Lee, right, alongside his trainer Adam Booth

When the WBO world middleweight title clash between champion Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders was switched from Thomond Park to Manchester, with the date pushed back to October 10, the fighters had to readjust their training schedules.

Currently in the MGM in Spain with coaches Mark and Jimmy Tibbs, Saunders (22-10, 12 KOs) has worried about being in peak condition on October 10.

"I don't want to over do it," he said recently. "I'm in very good shape as it is."

Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) had a mystery virus to shake off. Aged 31, he's had a longer, more arduous ring career than Saunders (25).

"You'll see the best of me on the night," he promises. "Billy Joe is a very talented fighter and I know he's going to leave it all in the ring. Both of us can box and fight but I'm the one with the world-class knockout power and that will be the difference."

Lee's blistering 12-round draw with Peter Quillin in April was another in a line of punishing bouts for the Limerick fighter who's lost home advantage.

He's unfazed. "I know there's a massive contingent of fans coming over from Ireland," he says. "They're going to make it a very hostile atmosphere for Billy Joe and I intend repaying them."

Saunders, a former British Olympian, is happy to be fighting on home turf. "When it gets to the nitty-gritty and you have your fans behind you, they can give you that little bit more of a push and bring that extra out of you," he says. "It could be a factor."

But he knows what an under pressure Lee is capable of. "We're in boxing," he says. "Anything can happen."

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