by David P. Greisman
Andy Lee had just been in Madison Square Garden in New York City seven weeks beforehand on the undercard to Miguel Cotto’s middleweight championship win over Sergio Martinez. On that night, he got knocked down in the first round by John Jackson but was able to score a one-punch knockout out of nowhere in the fifth round.
Lee was back in the Big Apple to support Mike Perez, the unbeaten heavyweight from Cuba who fights out of Ireland. Lee, who is 30 years old and is 33-2 with 23 KOs, chatted briefly with BoxingScene.com on July 25.
BoxingScene.com: That was a nice come-from-behind victory over Jackson.
Lee: “It was, but I felt I was doing OK in the fight. Even though I got knocked down in the first round, I was growing into the fight at the time I knocked him down. It was a good knockout. Very satisfying. You throw those punches a million times in training. They don’t really have that impact. Maybe once or twice. Luckily it had for me on the biggest stage.”
BoxingScene.com: This was your first fight since dropping down to 154. How do you feel at the weight, and why did you move down from middleweight?
Lee: “The reason I did that is because I’m able to. It’s probably my optimum weight to fight at. It takes a bit of discipline in terms of my diet and stuff, but that’s all. For me to fight at 154, being 6-foot-2, having the reach I have, it gives me every advantage physically, you know?”
BoxingScene.com: We’ve seen fighters like Chris Byrd move down in weight and be shells of themselves. Do you feel, with the discipline that it takes to be at 154, that you’re not weakened?
Lee: “I don’t think so. Obviously I carried the power. And I have to believe I’m not anyway. I’m not. And I have to believe I’m not, even if I am. I’m not going to say I feel weakened.”
BoxingScene.com: What’s the game plan for you from here on out? How many fights do you want to have before a title shot at 154?
Lee: “I want a title fight in my next fight. I always want a title fight. I believe I’m ready. But I also believe in staying busy. If a title fight is not in the offering within the next two or three weeks, then I’ll look to stay busy and be active.”
BoxingScene.com: Who do you want more than anybody else?
Lee: “Any of the top 154s or 160s.”
BoxingScene.com: So you’re willing to go back up to 160?
Lee: “Yeah. I could fight between both weights. If the right fight came, I could fight at 160 again.”
BoxingScene.com: Why would you be willing to go back up to 160 if 154 is your optimal weight?
Lee: “Like I said, if the right fight’s there. Title fights are few and far between. Guys fight their whole life, a lot of guys’ ambition in their life is just to fight for a world title. So if I get an opportunity, like I said, I’m 6-foot-2, I’m probably about 175 pounds at the moment out of training, so why not?”
BoxingScene.com: You said any of the big names at 154. What do you think of Canelo Alvarez?
Lee: “He’s a very good fighter. Strong. Powerful. I think he’s good, but he’s very beatable. [Erislandy] Lara showed that, and if I was fighting him I wouldn’t leave it to chance like Lara. I’d do everything Lara did, but more, with more power, and be more authoritative. I think that’s what let Lara down. He might’ve won the fight, but he didn’t beat Canelo, you know? To get the decision, to win against the home fighter, you’ve got to beat him.”
BoxingScene.com: After you got out of the ring last month, did you get to watch Cotto’s win over Martinez?
Lee: “I did. Very impressive. People say Martinez wasn’t the fighter he used to be. That might be true to an extent, but he’s still the champion, and Cotto still had to go out there and beat him. He looked very, very good.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want your fans to know?
Lee: “Within the next six or seven months, I’ll be champion of the world. And for all the people who’ve supported me over the years, they’ll be vindicated for backing me.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]