Middleweight Andy Lee (28-1, 20 KOs) is once again on the cusp of a world title fight as he waits on Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.'s promoters to make a decision about who should face the WBC champion in El Paso, Texas, on June 16.
Lee, who arrived back in the U.S. last week after a short break in Europe, is reportedly in a two-horse race with light middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan for a shot at the 26-year-old fighter from Culiacan, Mexico.
The Irish Voice caught up with the Detroit-based Limerick native on Monday to get the latest update on the situation.
“I’m still waiting to find out. I’m hearing all the Internet talk and I am hoping it comes true. Hopefully it’ll be sorted in the next few days,” he said.
Lee has been in this position twice already in 2012. After he withdrew from the Macklin/Martinez March 17 undercard, he was in the running with Sebastian Zbik to face WBA Super Champion Felix Sturm. On that occasion, Sturm’s handlers opted to go with Zbik.
Shortly after that, Lee was mentioned as an opponent to fight Chavez Jr. (45-0-1, 31 KOs) alongside Martin Murray, but Top Rank decided to opt for the Englishman. However, Murray experienced visa problems, which have ruled him out of the fight, and now Lee is back in the frame.
Lee confirmed on Monday that negotiations have taken place between both sides, and now the matter is out of his hands.
“Lou (DiBella, Lee’s promoter) has had talks and now I think it’s up to Top Rank to decide, so we’ll see,” he added.
The choice of Martirosyan is an interesting one as both he and Chavez Jr. are trained by Freddie Roach. The Wild Card Gym trainer recently told boxingscene.com who he would like Chavez Jr. to face.
“I would like to see Andy Lee as the next opponent because I train Vanes, so of course it would be easier for me," he said.
"Vanes is a 154-pounder fighter and Lee is a true middleweight. He has a good right hand and he is a little bit of a puncher and with him being southpaw -- that might give us a little problem here and there -- but I would like to see Andy Lee next."
Chavez Jr. is open to fighting either man.
“I’ve sparred with Vanes. I know it will be a difficult fight, but I would like to have that fight. Also I like Andy Lee because he’s left-handed and it would also help for when I fight Sergio Martinez," he said, according to fighthype.com.
Martinez, who defeated Matthew Macklin on St. Patrick's night by TKO after 11 rounds, has called out Chavez Jr. repeatedly, but Top Rank seems hesitant to match one of their most bankable fighters against such a dangerous opponent. Chavez' comments reveal that he might regard Lee as a possible tune-up for the Argentinean, but Lee told the Voice in February that he feels he has what it takes to beat the Mexican.
“I think he is improving all the time; he is showing a lot of things,” he said. “I believe I am a better quality fighter; with my height and reach I could hold him off and I could box him.”