Emanuel Steward and Andy Lee flew into New York from Detroit last Wednesday to promote the 24-year-old's headliner fight against Antwun Echols at the WaMu Theater in Madison Square Garden on March 16 as part of the Erin Go Brawl II card.
The well-attended press conference at Jack Dempseys in Manhattan saw both fighter and manager/trainer address the gathering, and afterwards Steward spoke to the Irish Voice about things on the horizon for Lee.
"We have everything on hold while we concentrate on getting a good win (on March 16)," Steward said.
However, should Lee (16-1) win on St. Patrick's Eve, plans are afoot for the London-born Limerick man to fight in Ireland at the end of May. After that is will be back to the States for the next assignment.
"In the latter part of the summer or the early fall, we'll be back to America and then maybe a big fight around the 10th (of October)," continued the Hall of fame trainer.
Right now there is only one big fight that Steward can envisage. "Name the one marquee fighter you think of when you think of middleweight in the States? You got Kelly Pavlik and you got Andy Lee . . . Andy Lee is a recognizable name because of all the hype. People know that's that Irish kid," says Steward.
"The thing is that everyone has either gone to super middleweight or down to light middleweight. (Joe) Green went to light middleweight and John (Duddy) went to light middleweight and Jermain (Taylor) and the rest of them went to super middleweight. So for name recognition in America, it is Andy and Kelly.
"I just know with two or three wins on American TV and the fight is on. We would love to knock Vera off in between, but if the man is not going to fight then we move on."
Steward also said that they had received lucrative promotional deal offers from both Bob Arum and Golden Boy promotions even after the defeat to Vera, but was adamant that all these things were secondary to being ready for the fight against Antwun Echols on March 16.
Lee has been sparring Aaron Pryor Junior and Dominique Dolton (who is also fighting on the card) in preparation for the fight. In his only defeat against Brian Vera, Lee's stamina, or lack thereof was a factor in the later rounds. Steward confirmed that Lee entered the ring that night with a bad cold that affected him.
Lee's subsequent winning performance against Willie Gibbs in July (where he tko'ed him in the last seconds of the fight) showed that the Limerick man had much more gas in the tank. Steward maintains that Lee's build is deceptive.
"Andy is always going to be one of those wiry guys like Carlos Monzon. They are physically strong but they are just wiry, rickety guys," he said.
In other Erin Go Brawl II news, super featherweight Eddie Hyland (11-1), who defeated Gustavo Bailey at the Roseland Ballroom on December 4, will replace brother Patrick on the St. Patrick's Eve card. Patrick, who is a 15-0 featherweight, will fight for the vacant IBF International super featherweight title at the Dorchester Armory on March 14 against a yet to be named opponent. Hyland will top the bill in a Paschal Collins-promoted Card.
Also on the card are Cork light middleweight Gary O'Sullivan (6-0) and Dublin debutant light welterweight Gavin Prunty.