Thursday 29 September 2016

Lee's Thomond dream over as title fight switched to Manchester

Sean McGoldrick

Published 13/08/2015 | 02:30

Lee will now defend his crown against Billy Joe Saunders in the 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena on Saturday, October 10
Lee will now defend his crown against Billy Joe Saunders in the 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena on Saturday, October 10

Andy Lee's World middleweight title fight scheduled for Limerick's Thomond Park on September 19 has been cancelled.

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Lee will now defend his crown against Billy Joe Saunders in the 21,000 capacity Manchester Arena on Saturday, October 10 according to Frank Warren, who manages Saunders and was the co-promotor of the planned Limerick showdown.

Officially the reason given for the cancellation is that Lee is suffering from a virus and needs additional time to recover.

"I got a call from Adam Booth who told me that Andy has been battling a virus on and off for the last couple of weeks. As a result they are moving the flight to October 10," Lou DiBella - who is Lee's US based promoter - told boxingscene.com.

Booth, the British based trainer, who masterminded Lee's World title win in Las Vegas last December, said Lee was gutted that the fight in Limerick was off.

"If the virus had cleared, then maybe the fight could have gone ahead. However, after speaking with Frank (Warren), my partner in the event, we decided that the risk was just too great on many fronts.

Frank Warren said they couldn't risk the fight not happening so the decision was taken to reschedule it.

"With October being such a busy month in the boxing calendar and every Saturday having a show, we could not afford to wait until November and risk going outdoors.

"The only viable option available to us was to move the fight to the Manchester Arena on October 10 alongside Terry Flanagan's defence of his WBO Lightweight title in a show that is shaping up to be one of the best cards in years.

"It's a shame for Andy Lee that his dream of defending his world title in Limerick cannot be fulfilled now, but this being such a big fight neither boxer can risk going into the ring at anything less than 100pc."

A press conference on Monday will reveal details of the Manchester card. Warren said it will feature three World title bouts. The Limerick fight would have been a significant boost to the economy in the mid-west if it had attracted the anticipated a sell-out crowd of 33,000.

However, the fight had been dogged with problems. Having originally announced that Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor would take part in the main support bout the promoters then had to announce that they had been unable to come to an agreement with the Bray boxer.

Irish Independent

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