The courageous Lee, a Limerick native, proved his fighting qualities again fighting back from two knockdowns to earn the draw.
The referee had him ahead on the final scorecard but one ringside judge gave it to Quillin and the other called it a draw.
Quillin won the first half of the fight, knocking Lee down twice in the first three rounds and seemingly dominating before Lee staged his comeback cheered on by thousands of Irish fans who chanted his name throughout.
Lee survived a late first round knockout and also an eye injury that threatened to stop the bout. In the seventh round he dropped Quillin for the first time in that boxer’s career as he came roaring back into fight that looked lost at one point.
“There’s a reason why judges are judges, they see it their way,” Quillin told Ring magazine afterwards afterward when asked about the draw which was generally seen as a fair result.
“I respect the decision. There is a first time for everything. I’m grateful that I was going to get dropped that I was able to get back up and fight. I came here to fight and I was able to go 12 rounds. I could have kept going. I took a year off, and the motivation of losing my title got me going.”
Lee said he was open to a rematch.
“It was a tough fight,” Lee said. “He got me early, because I was being lazy. I got my momentum late in the fight because I boxed consistently. I understand with two knockdowns people felt he won the decision. I could have done better tonight. If my next fight is Peter Quillin, so be it. It should be in Ireland, because he has an Irish last name and maybe he can find some ancestors there.”
“I don’t know how to feel about it,” he said. “It was weird as it wasn’t even a championship fight but both of us enhanced our reputation and that’s what was on the line.
“I don’t want to make any excuses and it was a fight at the end of the day so you’re going into it to win but you’re going in knowing that the title is restored anyway and in your mind if I lose the fight I’m still champion so how do I feel about that. I was a weird situation to go into.
“I didn’t want the fight to get cancelled and that was the first thing I said to (trainer) Adam (Booth).”
Lee’s record is now 36-2-1 with 24 knockouts.