By Jake Donovan
The search for a formidable opponent to face Andy Lee on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City has ended with the once-beaten middleweight being pulled from the show altogether.
Replacing the Irishman in the HBO-televised co-feature slot is a super middleweight matchup between Edwin Rodriguez and Donovan George. The bout will serve in supporting capacity to Sergio Martinez’ lineal world middleweight title defense against middleweight contender Matthew Macklin, based out of England but of Irish descent.
Lee took part in the initial press conference to announce the card, which takes place at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden. Promoter Lou DiBella disclosed Lee’s frustrations over not landing a fight with Martinez, promising that his fighter will find himself in a title fight soon enough.
Thanks to the wonderful world of alphabet titles (and the continued hypocrisy of promoters), a title fight is potentially on the horizon. Lee announced his intentions to land a fight with three-time alphabet beltholder Felix Sturm, who holds a controversial split decision win over Macklin in last summer’s title fight in Germany.
In pursuit of such a fight, Lee agreed to remove himself from the St. Patrick’s Day card.
Plans were already in place to attempt to secure Donovan George as an opponent, but the fight would’ve required a catchweight, which wouldn’t benefit either fighter as both are presumably one win away from title contention.
George remains in the fold and is now matched up against another DBE fighter in Rodriguez.
Economics and finances were blamed for the lack of a suitable opponent for Lee, though sources close to the situation insist that politics played a greater part.
While there’s truth to the suggestion that not a lot of money was put into the pot for a co-feature, the greater issue was HBO’s insisted preference on Lee facing Peter Quillin, an unbeaten middleweight out of New York City who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Quillin was on record stating he was willing to take the fight and for below his contracted minimum, but his request was largely ignored. With the opponent pool narrowed and the lack of sufficient compensation, the event handlers opted to go with a fight that was much easier to make.
Whether or not they will be able to draw a crowd remains to be seen, as Lee’s placement on the show had everything to do with the date on which it fell and his Irish roots. Whatever crowd does show up will be thoroughly entertained, as Rodriguez and George go all-out whenever they step in the ring.
Rodriguez (20-0, 14KO) is coming off of his thrilling – though horribly scored – points win over Will Rosinsky last October on Shobox. The 26-year old New England native has been touted as one of boxing’s hottest prospects for the past couple of years, though this bout represents a step up in class.
George (22-1-1, 19KO) has not fought since last April, though a good portion of the inactivity part was through no fault of his own. The Chicagoland super middleweight was due to face Librado Andrade in a super middleweight eliminator last December, only for a major discrepancy with the ring size (a 20’ ring promised, a 15’ delivered) resulting in the bout being cancelled hours before the show began.
The fight marks the HBO debut for both fighters.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]