By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
ANDY LEE reckons Adam Booth was the perfect man to put the finishing touches on legendary trainer Manny Steward’s work.
The Irishman puts his WBO middleweight title on the line against Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday at Manchester Arena.
Lee, 31, won the title just over a year ago when he beat Matt Korobov in Las Vegas and dedicated it to the late Steward.
The iconic trainer took Lee under his wing when he turned professional 10 years ago and they had a strong bond.
But Lee decided after his loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June 2012 that a change was needed and he soon ended up in London with David Haye’s former coach Booth.
Steward – who died in October 2012 - gave Lee the grounding in the paid ranks and vital knowledge while he believes Booth’s modern touch has given him the best of both worlds.
He said: “With Emanuel, he had years of experience and there were things you could only learn from going through it.
“All those training camps, all those gym sessions, and just being around him and his knowledge.
“The pad work sessions with him, what he was saying and how he would tell you the insights into fighters, great fights and the mindsets of fighters going into the fights.
“But with Adam, technically he has changed me and added close-up fighting, which I’ve never really done before, being able to fight on the inside.
“And with Emanuel, the knockouts I used to get were kind of tricky knockouts where you set a guy up or ‘dress him up’ as he would say, then knock him out with a punch he didn’t see.
“It was a quick punch thrown with different pace whereas with Adam it’s just brute power which comes from the technique and the work we do.
“It has been an education and I feel like more of a complete fighter - I can fight inside, outside, can still punch and I can box.”
Lee still misses former coach Steward “every day” and is proud to be associated with his famous Kronk Gym in Detroit.
And he will have one of the legendary trainer’s right-hand men Javan “Sugar” Hill coming to Manchester this weekend.
Lee added: “After my parents, Manny was the biggest influence. I’m very proud to have done it for him and Sugar Hill is going to be ringside for this fight.
“I had a message from his sister today and I still keep good ties with those people. They are family to me.
“They are proud to see me at this level, they are happy and I still represent Kronk everywhere I go.”