WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) will defend his title against Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this Saturday night. The fight will be televised nationally on NBC’s Premier Boxing Champions and is part of a double feature that includes the welterweight showdown between Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. The televised action starts at 8:30 p.m.
The Irish Voice caught up with Lee at his training base at Beausoleil in Monaco last Friday, where he has spent nearly three months working with Adam Booth to prepare for his first title defense.
“It's great that the fight is finally nearly here. It's been a long camp, but it hasn't really been that grueling because we trained at a nice pace. I was fairly fit coming into it, but it's been a really good camp and I have trained hard,” he said.
Lee was back in the gym on January 12 after winning the title on December 13 in Las Vegas, and he and Booth have managed his training schedule carefully so he can peak this weekend.
“I finished up sparring on Wednesday with 14 rounds, and I had hard session on Friday morning. I will have a hard session on Saturday with 15 rounds of pad work, which is something we always do before we leave for a fight,” Lee revealed.
Quillin held the same belt Lee is defending and made three successful defenses before vacating it last September instead of fighting Matt Korobov. Lee and Korobov then faced off for the vacant title in December, when Lee recorded a memorable sixth round TKO win that he set up with a right hook that stunned the Russian.
Lee’s right hook has been the equalizer in his last two fights, as he produced it with devastating effect in his one-punch knockout win over John Jackson at Madison Square Garden last June.
Quillin trains in Los Angeles at the Wild Card Gym under trainer Freddie Roach but lives in Brooklyn. He believes this fight will be one for boxing fans to enjoy.
“I think very highly of Andy, and I think his only weakness is the two losses he had, which could be a great thing for him. I have never lost or taken defeat, but everyone who has had a defeat has to take something positive from it. As you can see from his previous fights, Andy has re-invented himself, and those losses helped catapult him to being a champion now,” said the 31-year-old on a recent media call.
“The winner will be the man whose hand is raised and that could be either me or Andy. I am not going to boast and brag about how powerful I am -- I am an animal, we already know that -- and I don't go into any fight thinking I am a loser, but this fight is really about the fans, giving the fans a good fight.”
Lee’s strategy for the fight is very clear. “I need to be in the dominant position and hold the front. Any opportunity you give him he will come in with fast punches. I am going to have to let him know that if he takes the chance to come in that there is a price to pay for it. When we are not exchanging, I need to be dominant with the jab,” Lee said.
“He fights on confidence and if you let him grow into the fight, it (his confidence) will grow and grow and his momentum can grow. I have to take that out of his mind early on. Whether it is with a hard punch or what, I have to let him know that I am there and let him know that he is in danger of getting hurt."
Lee arguably couldn’t have picked a tougher guy to defend his title against in the form of Quillin, but nothing has come easy to the Limerick man in his career so far.
Meanwhile, Heather Hardy (12-0, 2 KOs) is fighting on the undercard at the Barclays Center. The 33-year-old will defend her WBC International female super bantamweight title against Renata Domsodi (12-6, 5 KOs) in a contest scheduled for eight two-minute rounds.
Domsodi, 40, is an experienced veteran who has challenged for world titles during her career. Hardy is looking forward to the assignment.
"This opponent is seasoned and has been in there with some of the best fighters in the game. Every opponent I face is tough, and I treat every match that way regardless of record or experience,” Hardy told the Irish Voice on Saturday.