Irish light middleweight contender Andy Lee (33-2, 23 KOs) scored a massive 5th round knockout win over John Jackson, WBC #4, to win the vacant NABF light middleweight (154lb) title at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
The courageous Lee showed character and determination in the early going following a knockdown in the first round caused by a heavy overhand right hook delivered by Jackson.
The Irishman was behind on the judges’ scorecards 39:36 as the 5th round commenced. Jackson launched a vicious assault with Lee against the ropes at the start of the round; Lee moved to his left out of the danger zone and quickly re-established his shape and composure. As Jackson moved in again Lee countered with a devastating right hand counter. Bang! Jackson was out cold as he slumped to the canvas.
Lee’s punch was unleashed with precision at 1.07 minutes of the round and is being viewed by boxing pundits as the best KO of the year. The punch was reminiscent of Lee’s 3rd round KO win against former light middleweight world champion Carl Daniels in March 2007 at the MSG Theater.
The Irish southpaw relocated his life and training base to London from Detroit almost two years ago following losing his world title shot to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June 2012 and the death of his long-time trainer and mentor, Emanuel Steward.
During this period under the stewardship of renowned boxing manager and trainer Adam Booth, the personable Lee has had to re-group and make adjustments to his game and recently moved from the middleweight to light middleweight division.
Lee and Booth have forged a good working relationship and friendship and are totally professional about all aspects of their work.
This fight was a crossroads fight for Lee and he needed to produce the goods on the big stage. The knockout was spectacular and made an emphatic statement in front of the 21,090 fans at Madison Square Garden and millions more watching on HBO's pay-per-view, Box Nation and other TV channels around the world.
Following the fight Lee said, ‘I am elated with my KO win here at MSG and would like to pay tribute to John Jackson; he is a tough and talented fighter. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank HBO, my promoter Lou DiBella, Adam Booth and all of the Boxing Booth Team.’
The Irishman is presently ranked WBC # 6 in the 154lb light middleweight division and following his victory will see his rating rise in the WBC and other sanctioning bodies’ rankings.
Next week Booth and DiBella will work out a plan to get Lee into a title contention position and a title shot.
Lee turns 30 on June 11, but the birthday party started early on Saturday night at MSG with his victory, a welcome birthday gift. The occasion is something he will cherish for a long time to come.