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 Arum is Firm: Murata To Face Quigley, Won't Bow To WBA Order Jermain Taylor - Domestic Violence Charges Are Dropped Tony Yoka's Appeal is Rejected, Doping Ban is Upheld By Judge Jacobs-Derevyanchenko Likely Headed to MSG Theater October 27 Derrick Webster Continues Streak, Stops Les Sherrington in Six Mariana Juarez, Jackie Nava in Line To Collide Later This Year Fury: You'll See 'Heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard' Against Pianeta Golovkin 30-Day Weight For Canelo Rematch - 168.3-Pounds Hooker Pumped: I'm Ready To Make Saucedo My Next Victim! Golovkin Explains Saunders Deal, Tense Negotiations For Canelo Usyk vs. Bellew: Very Positive Meetings Take Place For Fight Hooker vs. Saucedo Purse Bid: Top Rank Beats Out Hearn Rigondeaux Looks To Work With DeCubas Jr., Aims To Be Active Ryosuke Iwasa vs. TJ Doheny Will Be Carried By ESPN+ Photos: Tyson Fury, Francesco Pianeta - Go Face To Face Fury's Coach: Our Focus Right Now is On Pianeta, Not Wilder Photos: Jose Pedraza Grinds Hard For Rey Beltran Title Fight Ruben Guerrero Leans To Canelo To Beat Golovkin in Rematch Arum on Pacquiao Meeting and Lomachenko's Future Trainer: Whyte-Chisora II Should Be Next; Whyte's Options Limited Tyson Fury Vows To "Spank Deontay Wilder All Over Las Vegas!" David Allen Draws Up a 5 Man Hit-List: Price, Browne, Helenius Wilder: Joshua Damaged Name in U.S., I'll KO Fury in Mid-Rounds Paddy Barnes: Rosales Fight Will Define Me, Define My Career Jessie Vargas: I Can Face Broner in Rematch, Lamont Peterson British Title News: Askin-Okolie, Heffron, Skeete-Corcoran, More Video: Austin Trout Talks Canelo-Golovkin, Charlo, More Holmes emerging from brother's shadow with promotional push Roy Jones: Bivol Needs One or Two More Fights Before Alvarez Lebedev vs. Altunkaya on Sept. 7, Mikhalkin vs. Siaca on Sept. 15 Ruben Villa Back in Action on August 24 at The Doubletree Hotel Photos: Mayweather's Back To School Charity Draws Over 1,000 Lennox Lewis: Fury More Difficult To Beat Than Wilder, Joshua Wilder: Fury Will Be Tougher Fight For Me Than People Think Oscar Valdez Leaves Robles, Hires Eddy Reynoso as Trainer Max Ornelas Continues Streak With Win Over Tabugan Canelo Reacts To Critics: They Just Talk For The Sake of Talking Dadashev-DeMarco, Herring-Moralde Finalized For ESPN Card Nikita Ababiy Set To Make Pro Debut on Vargas-Dulorme Carlos Baldomir Facing 20 Years in Sex Abuse Case

Latest Active Forum Threads