By Keith Idec
Mike Lee believes he is almost ready to fight a ranked light heavyweight contender.
Chicago’s Lee (18-0, 10 KOs) will return to the ring Thursday night at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California, where he’ll face Justin Thomas in an eight-round bout. Lee, 29, hopes an impressive victory over Thomas (18-1, 7 KOs), of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the start of the most significant year of his boxing career that began in 2010.
“He’s got a great record and he’s coming to fight,” Lee told BoxingScene.com. “And so I’m excited about that. We just keep stepping up in competition. The last guy we fought was 21-3. This guy’s 18-1, so it only brings out the better fighter in me.
“I think this fight is just a move in the right direction. We wanna get more fights in this year. I want my name, by the end of the year, to be talked about in a title-eliminator-type scenario. I wanna be up there, world-ranked for the belts. This is gonna be a big year for me. This is a good start for me, and then having some big fights later on, it’s exactly where I wanna be.”
Long Island’s Sean Monaghan (28-0, 17 KOs) is one opponent in particular Lee would like to fight later this year.
“I’m very interested,” Lee said of fighting Monaghan. “I wanna fight all these guys in that conversation, all these guys in this pool of light heavyweights that are trying to go for Andre Ward and Kovalev’s spot. That’s what I’m interested in. I wanna be in those conversations. I know I have the athleticism, the speed. Nothing about Seanie Monaghan worries me.”
Lee would fight Monaghan in New York, where Monaghan has a sizeable fan base. Regardless, Lee, famous for his appearances in Subway commercials, is confident he is ready to start facing better opposition because he has made marked improvement over the past two years.
“I think I’m a lot better, significantly better,” said Lee, who trains at Wild Card West Boxing Club in Santa Monica, California. “After my last fight, going all 10 rounds and feeling extremely comfortable, honestly, that fight was easy for me. And so, I’m getting just better and better.
“I’m learning what to do, I’m learning how to hide power punches, I’m learning how to move, those things you can only get through experience. I feel like my skill level has definitely increased and I wanna get better every single fight. That’s kind of the goal in mind, and I’ve been doing that my past five fights. I’ve seen a big spike in my development.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.