Mike Lee: I Know I'm Getting Better and Better Every Fight

By Thomas Gerbasi

As Mike Lee approaches tonight’s bout with Jose Hernandez at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, the light heavyweight contender is finally able to start talking about a future that could include a world title shot if he keeps on the path he’s on. It’s been a lot longer road than many thought there would be when he turned pro in 2010, so I wonder if Lee thought this day would ever come when title shots were in the conversation.

“There was a time when I wasn’t sure if I could get out of the hospital bed,” he said, referring to his bout with the autoimmune disease ankylosing spondylitis. “So being a world champion, there was a time in my darkest moments when I was in pain and hooked up to IVs that boxing wasn’t even on my radar. Just becoming a healthy young man and getting out of the hospital was what I was hoping for.”

According to, the condition “is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the spinal joints (vertebrae) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort.”


In other words, it’s a debilitating disease for anyone, let alone a professional athlete. AS cost Lee a year and a half of his career, but once he returned in 2014, he had hope once again.

“As momentum started carrying me through and I started getting healthier and healthier, and I ultimately got the right diagnosis and how to treat it, that’s when the dream started coming back,” said Lee, who is more than thankful for his second chance to chase a world title.

“You need to be grateful,” he said. “Sometimes I get frustrated with the lack of progress, but I’m so grateful to be here. I know other people who have either had this disease or gone through other things are not in the situation I’m in. I got my dream back. All I want is a chance to go for it. I want the chance for the bell to ring and for me to fight for a world title. I know that God has given me a chance to get back in the ring and that’s all I ask for. I’m content with that. I’m working as hard as I can and giving everything I have and I know I’m getting better and better every fight. That’s all you can ask for in this business – a shot. And then on any given night, anything can happen. That’s the beautiful thing about sports.”

Since his return, Lee has added nine wins to his 20-0 record, and it’s been in his last three fights that the 30-year-old has been making the move from prospect to contender with wins over Chris Traietti, Justin Thomas and Aaron Quattrocchi, opponents with a combined record of 49-5-1. On Friday, he’s got the 19-3-1 Hernandez, who brings a seven-fight winning streak into Lee’s backyard.

Lee is expected to get the job done against the 35-year-old Californian, but at this point, every fight is a title fight for the Notre Dame grad, as a loss would drop him down the 175-pound rankings.

“I don’t take anybody lightly,” Lee said. “And honestly, you can see that by the shape I’m in. I don’t care if he’s 3-19 or 19-3, I’m working so hard because it’s not just about June 8th. It’s about the fight after that and the fight after that. I respect everybody who gets into that ring, I honestly do. But I’m working too hard to lose. I’m too fast, I’m too strong, I’m too smart in there, and I perform the best when the pressure’s on.”

Most importantly, he’s fighting, able to control his own destiny once again. That makes Mike Lee happy. Just don’t confuse that with being content.

“I’m the kind of person, for better or worse, that’s not really content until I get a chance to fight and I win the title,” he said. “I’m constantly hungry and I’m not satisfied yet. Am I grateful to be where I’m at? Yes, but I’m not satisfied. I don’t feel like I’ve made it by any means. I think the day I feel that, I’ll probably retire, and I won’t feel that until I win a title and achieved a few other things that I want to achieve. I still have that hunger in me and I feel like I got a new lease on life.”

Tags: Mike Lee image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Post a Comment - View More User Comments (0)
Top Headlines Showtime's Spence-Ocampo Main Event Peaked at 726K Viewers Sanchez To Canelo: At Least Try To Knock Golovkin Out! Photos: Claressa Shields, Hanna Gabriels - Meet Up, Put in Work Liam Williams Parts Ways With Trainer Gary Lockett Hearn: I Won't Let Joshua Face Wilder With an 8-Week Camp! Bryan Vasquez Inks Promotional Pact With Top Rank Carl Frampton Predicts a Very Bright Future For Michael Conlan Ricky Burns Rules Out A Fight Against Josh Taylor UK News: Umar Sadiq, Barnes vs. Rosales, Darryll Williams, More Joseph Parker's Trainer Details 7 Week Camp For Dillian Whyte Errol Spence: Amir Khan Has Al's Number if He Wants to Fight Me De La Hoya: Triple-G Should Talk In the Ring, Try to KO Canelo Fury: Bellew is a Sh*thouse, I'll Punch His Mouth When I See Him! Jack Catterall: I'm Confident That I'd Beat Hooker, Take His Title Nick Ball, Meshech Speare Added To MTK Liverpool Card Josh Taylor: I Want To Do a Number on Postol, Knock Him Out! De La Hoya: Canelo is So Angry at GGG - Woke Up Sleeping Giant! Hughie Fury Would Take Joshua Fight Right Away, Says Trainer Crawford vs. Spence Heating Up as The Next Big Fight at 147 Sanchez Hopes Canelo is Not Talking The Talk and 'Fights' GGG Ugas: At Some Point Spence Will Have To Face Me or Get Stripped Video: Abel Sanchez Talk Golovkin vs. Canelo Rematch Deal Dusty Harrison Granted Release From Roc Nation Sports Crawford-Spence is Impossible To Do Without PPV, Says Arum Video: Tom Loeffler Talks Canelo-Golovkin Deal, Saunders, IBF Video: Gennady Golovkin Talks Canelo Deal, Saunders, More Abel Sanchez Excited That Golovkin Stuck To His Principles Loeffler: 50-50 Was Fair; GGG Gave Canelo 5 Percent for His Ego! Loeffler: Golovkin Wants Saunders Next if He Can Beat Canelo Photos: Braekhus vs. Sagaydakovskya Set For Usyk-Gassiev Spence: Jermell Charlo Was Trying Too Hard to Knock Out Trout Luis Nery Suspended Until September 1 By The WBC Golovkin Promoter: Canelo Rematch Bigger Than Wilder-Joshua Tyson Fury Hopes To Get a Much Better Opponent on Aug. 18 Weekend Review: Spence, Golovkin-Canelo II, Roman, More Frank Warren: Jaime Munguia vs. Liam Smith Set, July 21 Hooker: Flanagan Overlooked Me; I Shocked the Boxing World! Lucas Browne vs. Roger Izonritei on July 29th in Sydney Carl Frampton Expects a Real Challenge From Luke Jackson Pavlik: I Would Rather Have Fought Froch Than Calzaghe

Latest Active Forum Threads