This past Saturday night, former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee snapped the longest stint of inactive in his entire pro career by winning an eight round unanimous decision over KeAndre Leatherwood. The scores were 80-72, 78-74, 79-73.
The fight was staged as part of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Lee (35-3-1, 24 KOs) had been inactive since his December 2015 twelve round decision loss to Billy Joe Saunders in Manchester. Saunders lost the WBO world title in that match.
The last time Lee had fought at Madison Square Garden, he came from behind to score a sensational fifth round knockout over John Jackson in June 2014 on the Miguel Cotto-Sergio Martinez undercard. There was far less drama in what Lee admits was a return fight to shake off the rust and get back in the mix.
The opening three rounds were very cautious as Lee found his feet back in the ring. As the fight progressed he found some nice combinations to outbox Leatherwood round after round.
“It’s always good to come back to New York and it’s always a pleasure to fight here. It took me a while to get going but he was a tough and awkward opponent. He stayed in his shell and he wouldn’t really open up and I could see he was very wary of my right hook,” Lee said.
“He was protecting that side all the time, but it took me a while to get into it. Around rounds four, five and six and then towards the end I knew he kind of just wanted to coast and try to go the distance It’s been a long time… I’ve been completely out of boxing for a year, I was at home and I wasn’t in the gym, but it’s good to be back and I think the rounds will stand to me more than if I had finished him in a round.
“It was hard to fight and engage with somebody who’s not trying to fight you back and he fast hands so I could have tried to force to press the issue, but then I would have end up getting caught with silly punches, which happened at times, because he had quick enough hands
“I’m going home and the first baby is on the way… in June. I’ll just look forward to that, enjoy it and I’ll be back in the gym in September and I hope to fight maybe in Ireland."
Lee is hoping to fight Golovkin, Jacobs or Saunders before the end of the year.