Irish middleweight Andy Lee (28-2, 20 KOs) has teamed up with English trainer Adam Booth and will base his career out of London in the wake of the recent passing of his longtime trainer and co-manager Emanuel Steward.
After his seventh round TKO defeat to then WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on June 16 in El Paso, Texas, Lee went back to Europe for a break and spent most of his time between Ireland and London.
The first he heard about Steward’s illness was when he saw reports online that his trainer was unable to call the Chad Dawson/Andre Ward fight on September 8 for HBO. Lee spoke to Steward on September 8 and Steward told him he had to go for a few tests but assured him he was fine.
The following Tuesday, Lee’s other co-manager, Perry Mandera, called the fighter and told him Steward was seriously ill in hospital with cancer. Lee headed to the U.S. shortly after to see him.
"I spent about a week with him in Detroit and then Chicago, and in a way I was very lucky to have these days with him and lucky we got to spend that time together," Lee told the Irish Voice on Monday.
Steward passed away on October 25, and a memorial service was held in Detroit last week for the legendary trainer. Lee was in attendance, and as well as paying his respects to Steward he also got the chance to catch up with some other members of his training team.
"Javan (Javan “Sugar” Hill, an ever-present in the Lee corner) and a lot of the guys in the gym were wondering what I was going to do. It was nice to see them and it was good to leave on good terms,” said Lee.
Lee has now relocated to London and is convinced that Adam Booth is the best-equipped trainer to lead him in the next stage of his career. Booth is best known for training former cruiserweight and former heavyweight world champion David Haye.
"I always watched Adam Booth and I was always impressed by him, so I approached him and we started training together,” revealed Lee.
Lee is currently training with Booth at the Hayemaker Gym in Vauxhall but will move to Booth’s own gym in the coming weeks.
“Coming here and training with him has opened me up to a totally different style of fighting. A lot of things he is teaching me are going against things I have learned over my whole career, but I said if I am going to come here I am going to take it all on board,” said Lee.
“I have come here with an open mind and I am doing the things that he is showing me and it is becoming more natural.
“When I first spoke to him he said, ‘The things you have I cannot teach you - the experience, all the sparring and all the fights, and all the camps you have been to, and your amateur background - the things I can teach can only make you better.’
“It is early days yet, but I am enjoying the training and this is where I see myself for the future.”
Lee is still promoted by Lou DiBella, but the New York-based promoter seems open to the 28-year-old fighting on the other side of the pond.
"Lou has very good connections over here (in London), especially with Eddie Hearns. It is flexible at the moment,” said Lee.
“He is my promoter and has the rights to me worldwide but I think he is going to allow me to fight here and maybe at home if any fights come up. Hopefully, I will get out in January and we will see again in March.”
Lee hopes to get back in the ring early in the New Year to work off the ring rust, but the fight he craves most in 2013 is one against Matthew Macklin, who is also promoted by DiBella.
“We should definitely fight. We are both there, we are both knocking around and it is a big fight and people want to see it,” said Lee.
“People don't want to see me fighting someone no one has ever heard of and same with him, so we'll see what happens.”
Macklin went on the Off the Ball radio show on Newstalk in Ireland on Monday night and said that while he would welcome a fight with Lee, he would prefer to pursue a fight Chavez first.