Sunday 25 February 2018

Andy Lee ready to see off undefeated challenger Billy Joe Saunders in Manchester

Champion Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders both made weight for their WBO Middleweight Championship title . (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
Champion Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders both made weight for their WBO Middleweight Championship title . (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)

Sean McGoldrick in Manchester

World WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee has weighed in four ounces lighter than his British challenger Billy Joe Saunders ahead of their showdown in the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

Saunders, who is unbeaten in his 22 previous professional fights, tipped the scales at 11 stone; six pounds while Lee, who captured the WBO title 12 months ago in Las Vegas in sensational fashion, weighed 11 stone, five pound and 12 ounces.

There was none of the drama which characterised Lee's previous weight-in in Broo klyn, New York last April when then challenger Peter Quillan failed to make the 160 pound middleweight limit.

Their fight went ahead as a non-title bout with Lee suffering two knock downs in the early stages – one was later deemed as a slip – before recovering to draw with the American boxer who was knocked out in the first round of his most recent contest by American David Jacobs. The latter is now the new WBA World middleweight title holder and a likely opponent in the spring for the winners of Saturday's clash in Manchester.

“I've spend too long waiting for this fight,'' said Lee immediately after the weigh in. “I'm just now looking forward to doing what I have to do and beat him. I believe I can out box him and hopefully knock him out but it's not just about one punch.''

Lee was obviously referencing his devastating right hook which effectively won him his last two big fights – his World title fight last December in Las Vegas against the unbeaten Russian Matt Korobov and against John Jackson, in June 2014 in New York which effectively relaunched his career.

As has been the case during the long build-up to this contest – the fight has been postponed twice – there was no trash talk about the boxers in the traditional face-off after the weigh-in.

Lee draped a tricolour across his naked shoulders much to the delight of hisfans in the bunker like room where the weigh in was held as he faced up to Saunders.

The pair exchanged a hand shake and Lee immediately left the stage in order to have his first meal of the day whereas Saunders lingered for a while.

The preliminaries for finally over for this much delayed contest; the action is scheduled to begin after 10pm on Saturday night while live coverage on Box Nation.

By the end of it Lee will either have ended Saunders' unbeaten record and still be World champion or at 31 he could be facing the prospect of retirement if he relinquishes his crown.

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