Sunday 23 October 2016

'Very disappointing' – Andy Lee determined to shrug off loss of home advantage for title defence

Mark Staniforth

Published 17/08/2015 | 16:28

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 has vowed to shrug off the loss of home advantage when he puts his WBO middleweight title on the line against Billy Joe Saunders in Manchester.

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Lee had originally been set to fight Saunders in his home city of Limerick in September before being forced to postpone the bout after picking up a virus.

Now Lee must face Londoner Saunders on a triple world title bill which also includes Britons Terry Flanagan and Liam Smith on October 10.

Lee said: "It was very disappointing because a fight in Limerick would have been a dream come true but it wasn't to be.

"It was the right call - I'm going to need to be 100 per cent in order to win against Billy Joe so I had to get over it and focus on my next fight.

"It was a close fight anyway and now it's even closer than it was before. There's a lot of pride on the line and we're going to leave it in the ring."

Lee - who gained the belt by beating Matt Korobov in Las Vegas in December - and Saunders are the first Travellers to face each other with a world boxing title at stake.

The respect between the pair was evident at a press conference to announce the rearranged bout in Manchester on Monday, and Saunders said he bore no grudges over the delay.

Read more: Thomond Park director launches staunch defence of ticket sales for Andy Lee fight

Saunders said: "Just like it would have been for Andy in Ireland, it will now be a dream come true for me to win a world title on what I consider to be home soil.

"When it gets to the nitty-gritty and you have your fans behind you they can give you that little bit more of a push and bring that extra out of you, so it could be a factor."

Flanagan, who secured the WBO lightweight title in July after an early shoulder injury ruled out champion Jose Zepeda, will make his first defence against American Diego Magdaleno.

Meanwhile Smith will get the chance to become the first of four fighting Liverpool brothers to win a world crown when he faces Frenchman Michel Soro for the vacant WBO light-middleweight crown.

Smith said: "You can't get much better news as a professional boxer - it was the phone call I've wanted for a while and I was very happy to get it."

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