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Lee planning title heist in Las Vegas

The late Emanuel Steward, whose Kronk Gym became a conveyor-belt for champions such as Mike McCallum, Thomas 'Hit Man' Hearns and Wladimir Klitschko, always insisted Andy Lee would be a world champion.

"I have faith in his talent and his ability to take a punch. The knowledge he has of boxing if tremendous," he told me.

Six years ago, when just a few fights away from a title shot, Lee slipped up against Brian Vera for the first of just two defeats in his career. He quickly recovered.

Two years ago, for Lee's shot at the WBC belt in El Paso in high summer against local hero Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, the odd were stacked against him.

But, again, Lee (30) is back in contention.

Next Saturday he fights Matt Korobov (24-0, 14 KOs) in Las Vegas for the WBO world middleweight title.

Training in London with Adam Booth, Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) is determined to defeat the unbeaten Russian Korobov (31) and lift the WBO belt.

"This will be my fourth fight in Vegas," Lee tells me. "I can't wait. I'm ready to realise my dream of becoming world champion."

The Limerick fighter has knocked-out 23 opponents, almost as many fighters as Korobov's faced. "I've the experience," he says. "I'm also in the form of my life. At this level there are no easy fights and this guy is good but, if I box my best, I know I'll win."

Lee's former coach, Joey Gamache once pointed out, "You've seen how courageous Andy is. He comes from the same background as many classic fighters who learned their trade. He's a dominant fighter."

Saturday's test will be stern but Lee is prepared. "I'm expecting a hard fight," he says. "As always, I'm confident. I'm ready to bring the WBO world title back to Ireland."