Middleweight contender Andy Lee will face Anthony Fitzgerald on an emotional return to Ireland at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on February 9. Lee returned to the UK from America to train with Adam Booth following the death of Emanuel Steward in October and the Fitzgerald bout will be Lee’s first fight this side of the Atlantic since 2010.
The 28 year old suffered a seventh-round stoppage when he challenged Julio Cesar Chavez Jr for the WBC middleweight title in June and that defeat prompted Lee to consider his options. “It is a new start for me over here,” he explained. “I was in America for a long time. I fought for a World title but it didn’t work out so I felt I needed a fresh start and for me to come back here and train with Adam has been a fresh start. If I had stayed over there I would have stayed in the same place physically, and metaphorically in my career as well. When you fight for world titles and don’t succeed you have to ask yourself why you didn’t succeed and you have to evaluate things. I felt like I had gone as far as I could in Detroit and the only way forward was to change things.
“It was tough losing Emanuel. I trained with Emanuel, lived with him and was very close with him. Before he was sick I had already made my mind up to maybe try with a new trainer. Unfortunately he was sick and passed away and that was a tough loss for me and everybody who was close to him.
“To get back to world title fights I have to win fights, it is as simple as that. We need one or two fights and then maybe fight one of the best lads from the British scene and that will put me right back in the mix and in touch of a title. I am not a million miles away, three or four fights and I am back in contention.”
The bumper Belfast bill is headlined by Carl Frampton’s shot at the European super bantamweight title against Kiko Martinez and also includes Martin Lindsay’s British and Commonwealth featherweight title challenge against Lee Selby.