Thursday 14 December 2017

Lee corner demands fair play

Bernard O'Neill

ANDY LEE'S promoter has warned that the last thing that professional boxing needs is another dodgy decision in Texas tonight.

New York-born Lou DiBella was speaking ahead of Lee's tilt at Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr's WBC World middleweight title at the Sun Bowl in El Paso -- a fight which the Limerick southpaw says will define his entire career.

To say that Ireland's only boxer at the 2004 Olympics will be walking into a hostile environment in the early hours of tomorrow morning (Irish time) would be an understatement.

Over 20,000 Mexican fight fans are expected to cross the Rio Grande to lend their support to undefeated Chavez's quest to retain his title for a third time.

Many pundits believe that, unless Lee knocks out his orthodox-punching opponent, he will not get a points decision from a fight billed 'Viva Chavez'.

That is a consensus that is clearly a worry for Team Lee and DiBella doesn't want to see more "impropriety" just a week after the uproar caused by Timothy Bradley's controversial split decision win over Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas.

The WBO have announced an investigation into that fight amid the widespread belief that Pacquiao was robbed.

DiBella said: "In recent times, the sport of boxing has been plagued by inexplicable decisions, questionable judging and the appearance of possible impropriety.

"The greatest hope of Team Lee is that the fighter who truly wins on Saturday night gets his just rewards and not simply the consolation of a public that knows the truth.

"We are confident that the athletic commission in Texas, the judges and the referee are fully aware and agree that the sport of boxing cannot take and does not deserve more unnecessary controversy."

Lee (28), who fights out of the Detroit Kronk under Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward -- who coached Chavez's legendary father -- said this fight is the one he has been building towards since he took up boxing.

The three-time Irish Elite champion, formerly of the St Francis BC in Limerick, has won 28 of his 29 outings in the pro ranks.

His one defeat, which has since been avenged, was to Brian Vera in Connecticut in 2008. Vera was drafted in as a sparring partner for the Shannonsider ahead of tonight's 12-rounder with Chavez, who is known to be apprehensive about facing southpaws.

"This is the one that I have been waiting for all my boxing career in the amateur and professional ranks," Lee said. "I'm here to win the title and I will be putting everything into it.

"It will be tough in Texas as most of the people there will be supporting him. That's the way it is, El Paso is just across the border from Mexico.

"But I've fought away from home many times and I've won. This is the one that I've been waiting for. This is the one that I've prepared for all my career."

Texan Laurence Cole will referee tonight's fight. Rey Danseco (Philippines), Jesse Reyes (USA) and John Keane (UK) will be the three ringside judges.

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