‘Irish’ Andy Lee Retires

The Irish banger hangs them up
Lee at the Kronk Gym with Emanuel Steward.

The 33-year-old has called time on a career that saw him win the WBO World Middleweight Title.

Born in London, to Irish parents, he started boxing at the Repton Boxing club before his family moved back to County Limerick, in the Republic of Ireland. His passion for boxing continued and he boxed out of St Francis ABC in Limerick. As an amateur, he won Silver at the World Junior Championships in Cuba. In 2004, he won Bronze at the European Championships in Croatia. The same year, he represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. He defeated Alfredo Angulo but lost, in the next round, to Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. He won the Irish senior amateur title three times (2003-2005).

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The 6’2′ southpaw turned professional in 2006. His early professional career was under the guidance of the legendary trainer, Emanuel Steward. He made his professional debut at the Joe Louis Arena, Detroit. He outpointed Anthony Cannon, over six rounds. Lee had relocated to Detroit, from Ireland, and trained out of the legendary Kronk Gym.

His first fifteen fights, mainly, took place in the US, though he had a couple in Germany and, also, went back to his native Ireland, to defeat Jason McKay for the BUI Irish super middleweight title.

The shooting star suffered his first defeat, in 2008, to the tough Brian Vera. Vera was down in the first but forced the referee to call it off in the seventh. A fatigued Lee under heavy pressure, at the time of the stoppage. Andy rebounded with a seventh-round stoppage of American Willie Gibbs. He won his next eleven fights including taking the unbeaten record of Scotland’s Craig McEwan (19-0, at the time).

In 2011, he avenged the defeat to Brian Vera, by outpointing him over ten rounds. Vera was floored in the second. The win over veteran was followed by a shot at the WBC World Middleweight title. The bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. took place at the Sun Bowl, El Paso. ‘Irish’ was up on the judge’s scorecards but stopped on his feet by the Mexican, in the seventh round. After this defeat, Lee started to train with Englishman Adam Booth and they forged a successful team.

He won his next four fights then, in 2014, faced John Jackson. Lee was down in the first and trailing on the cards. Jackson was pushing for a stoppage, in the fifth round, when he got countered by a right hook that had him out for the count. The win lead to a title shot against the favoured Russian, Matt Korobov. Then 24-0, Korobov was stopped on his feet, after a savage barrage in the sixth. Lee had won the vacant WBO World Middleweight title, in Las Vegas. While Manny Steward was no longer guiding his career, due to his untimely death in 2012, Lee had accomplished their goal of becoming a World champion.

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He followed it up with a thrilling draw against then-unbeaten Peter Quillin. Lee down in rounds one and three, Quillin down once in round seven. The title wasn’t on the line, at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, as Quillin failed to make weight. In his next fight, in Manchester, England, he lost his title to Billy Joe Saunders, in 2015. Andy down twice, in the third, and outpointed over twelve rounds (majority decision). He’s had one fight since, in 2017, defeating American KeAndrae Leatherwood over eight rounds.

Lee always showed heart, to go with his undoubted power. He had a few bumps, along the way, but a career that he can be proud of. It’s hard for boxers to walk away and there are still opportunities but a wise decision by ‘Irish’. His final record reads 35-3-1, 24 KOs.

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