Over the past week, the issue wasn’t whether middleweight Andy Lee (28-1, 20 KOs) would fight Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. (45-0-1, 31 KOs) on June 16; rather it was where the Irishman would challenge the Mexican for his WBC belt.
In the hour preceding last Tuesday’s press conference to announce the fight between the two men at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, Chavez’s promoter, Top Rank, was informed that Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa of the University of Texas System called off the fight at the stadium because of a “higher than normal" security concern.
The Sun Bowl is on the University of Texas at El Paso campus, and Cigarroa said he took the decision to ensure the well-being of the students and staff. Reaction from the local community in El Paso was one of some disbelief.
The “higher than normal" security concern was reportedly due to speculation that members of Mexican drug cartels might be in attendance on fight night.
However, on Friday, Cigarroa made a u-turn and decided that the fight could go ahead as originally planned, as long as local authorities could ensure certain safety regulations were met.
As the Irish Voice went to press on Tuesday afternoon, Top Rank CEO and founder Bob Arum is meeting with El Paso city council officials to see if they can work something out.
A decision on whether the Sun Bowl is a viable location to host the Chavez/Lee fight is expected Tuesday or Wednesday. Should the event not take place in El Paso, it will be hosted by another city in Texas.
The Irish Voice caught up with Andy Lee to get his take on how the press conference went in El Paso last week.
“The press conference was short and sweet. No one talked for too long, it was very respectful, and there was no bad talk,” Lee said on Sunday, adding that he, like everyone else, was following the online updates on where the fight would take place.
In the press conference photos, Lee appears much taller that the two-inch difference between himself and Chavez.
“A lot of people were saying that to me, he is supposed to be a big middleweight but I seemed bigger than him across the shoulders,” added Lee, who attended the press conference at the Sun Bowl with Sugar Hill from the Kronk Gym and training camp manager Dennis Turner.
Speaking of camp, Lee is happy with how his preparations have gone to date.
“It is going well, I am training hard, but I am not over-training. I will start some sparring with K9 and a few other Kronk fighters and then get some other sparring partners in next week.”
Two prospective sparring partners who might help Lee prepare for the challenge of Chavez are super middleweights Edwin Rodriguez and Donovan George.
Lee acknowledges that the fight will be a big challenge, but it is one he is ready to embrace.
"I am feeling good about the fight. It will be a very hard one in his backyard, but Manny (Steward, Lee's trainer) has a good plan to fight Chavez, and I hope I can carry it out.”
Lee will continue to train in Detroit before heading to El Paso (if that is confirmed as the venue for the fight) to acclimatize before the fight.
“I plan to go down 7-10 days before the fight. El Paso is not at a great altitude but there is some elevation, so I will head down there to get used to it,” he said.
Finally, according to boxrec.com, lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (9-0-1, 4 KOs) will fight the first eight rounder of his career on May 19 on the undercard of the Amir Khan/Lamont Peterson rematch at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. An opponent has yet to be confirmed.