Middleweight Andy Lee (26-1, 19 KOs) fights Bryan Vera (19-5, 12 KOs) at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City this Saturday night on the undercard of WBC Diamond middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’ title defense against Darren Barker.
Lee wrapped up his training camp at the end of last week, and he is content with how his preparations have gone.
“I finished sparring on Friday,” Lee told the Irish Voice on Sunday, saying that he planned to do some speed work and timing with fellow Kronk fighter Dominique Dalton on Monday before resting up the rest of this week.
“I have a good feeling that I have put in the work and that a good job was done,” he added.
Lee worked with sparring partners Carlos Molina, “K9” Cornelius Bundrage and Canadian Steve Rolls to ready himself for Vera, and he is confident that he will reverse the result of the pair's first meeting on March 21, 2008, when he was stopped in the seventh round.
“My advantages are height, reach and speed. I am a better boxer than him all-round,” said the Limerick man.
The rematch, a contest scheduled for 10 rounds, is being fought at 163 pounds, so Lee will not have to worry about cutting lots of weight on fight week.
“The weight is no problem, in fact, I want to make sure I don’t come in too light,” he added.
Now that the punishing physical training is at an end, Lee will now turn his attention to psychological preparations.
“This week I will spend time working on the mental side of things, and I will spend time visualizing the fight,” he said.
Lee will have plenty of family support from Limerick for the fight, as his parents and siblings will be making the journey over, as will his grandmother, who will be in attendance in the Boardwalk Hall to see her grandson fight for the first time on American soil.
Lee is in New York City for a press conference on Wednesday, September 28, and he is not at all bothered by the hoopla that comes with a big fight.
“The work is done. As the fight gets nearer and the hype builds, I don’t mind it at all. I look forward to it,” he said.
Lee’s corner will be made up of trainer Emanuel Steward, second Sugar Hill, cut man Joey Gamache and his brother Roger.
Both Lee and Vera claim that they are in the best physical and mental shape possible for this fight. They had better be, as the career consequences for both the winner and loser are significant.
The rematch may not be the main event, but it may be the main attraction. The fighters have “previous,” both of them are hyper-motivated to win, and both know that a likely tilt at a world title awaits the winner.
For Lee, a win would avenge his only professional defeat and set him up for a huge 2012. The training in done and the game plan is set. Now all he has to do is execute it.
There will also be as strong Irish American interest on the undercard for fans heading to Atlantic City.
Light middleweight Kevin Rooney Jr. (2-0) will fight Danny Lugo (0-1) in a contest scheduled for four rounds.
“I had a good training camp,” Rooney, whose father Kevin used to train Mike Tyson, told the Irish Voice by e-mail Monday.
As well as training full-time, the 26-year-old works as executive assistant and director of public relations at DiBella Entertainment. Balancing the two has been a challenge, but one he is able to meet.
“It has been a bit tougher, the work load has increased a bit, but when I am in the office I focus on my work there, when I am in the gym I focus on the task at hand there. (I am) looking forward to putting on an exciting performance this Saturday,” Rooney said.
Also in action will be light heavyweight Seanie Monaghan (8-0, 5 KOs) who will fight Kentrell Claiborne (2-3, 1 KO) in a contest scheduled for six rounds.
Monaghan has fought four times in 2011 and was in action on March 12 in Atlantic City when Andy Lee defeated Craig McEwan.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere on October 1st with all the Irish fans in attendance. I expect Andy to win this fight and to one day very soon become the middleweight champion," said Monaghan in the run up to the fight.
Tickets to the fight are available from Ticketmaster, with prices ranging from $50-$300. The Lee-Vera bout will be televised on HBO’s World Championship Boxing, with coverage starting at 10 p.m.