By Jake Donovan
It took months to arrive to this point, but Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders are finally ready to meet in the ring.
Both fighters made weight ahead of their middleweight title fight this Saturday evening in Manchester, England. Lee weighed in at 159.75 lbs., while Saunders came in right at the divisional limit of 160 lbs.
The bout headlines a full card that will air live on BoxNation in the United Kingdom and as part of a special afternoon edition of Showtime Boxing Internaional on SHO Extreme in the United States.
Lee (34-2-1, 21KOs) will make the second defense of the middleweight title he won in a come-from-behind knockout win over Matt Korobov just over a year ago. It's been a bittersweet reign for the Irish southpaw, who has been out of the ring since his 12-round draw with Peter Quillin this past April in Brooklyn, New York.
His showdown with Saunders (22-0, 12KOs) will mark Lee's third straight fight versus an unbeaten middleweight, though it took eight months to finally arrive to this point. The bout was originally slated to take place in Ireland this past September, but an untimely injury during a sparring session forced Lee to withdraw and postpone.
A lack of venue ability forced the bout to relocate to Manchester, with a rescheduled date of October 17. Those plans fell apart when Saunders suffered an injury, thus causing a two-month delay leading to Saturday.
Saunders - who represented Great Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympics - finally attempts his first crack at a major title.
Also on the card, Liam Smith faces unheralded Jimmy Kelly in a super welterweight title fight. Both fighters made weight for the evening's co-feature, which airs on BoxNation (only Lee-Saunders will air on SHO Extreme in the United States).
Smith (21-0-1, 11KOs) weighed in right at the 154 lb. limit for the first defense of the belt he picked up with a 7th round knockout of John Thompson in October. Kelly (16-0, 7KOs) hit the scales at a trim and ready 153 lbs. for his first career title fight.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox