The fighting pride of Limerick, Ireland Andy Lee (28-1, 20KOs) steps in the ring on Saturday night in the biggest fight of his career against the son of a legend , Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (45-0-1, 31KOs). Chavez's WBC Middleweight title will be on the line.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Andy as we discussed an array of topics, including the poor judging that was displayed in last weekend's controversial mega fight between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley. Here's what he had to say :
CraveOnline: Hey Andy, how are you?
Andy Lee: How ya doing Zac?
CraveOnline: Pretty good. This Saturday night you'll be facing Julio Cesar Chavez Jr for his WBC strap. How has this training been this time around?
Lee: Training camp went very well. I trained in Detroit at the Kronk Gym with Emmanuel. I had a very good training camp and a lot of good sparring partners came in so everything went well. No injuries. A lot of hard work but I got through it and I'm in great shape for the fight.
CraveOnline: I firmly believe you have the stronger boxing skills going into the fight however Chavez is known to come in blown up well over the weight limit come fight night. How are you planning to deal with his size?
Lee: I've been sparring with a lot of heavier guys. All of my sparring partners were super middleweights well overweight so I've been preparing for the extra physicality of Chavez but I'm a big middleweight too and it's tough for me to make the 160. Fight time I'm usually coming in at 175 myself so a few pounds here or there won't make a huge difference. I'm looking to try and gain as much weight as I possibly can. Without that rehydration and graphic dehydration it takes a toll on his body and I think it's hindering him and it gives me an advantage.
CraveOnline: Speaking of advantages, what advantages do you see yourself having over him?
Lee: As you said I'm a much better boxer than him. I believe I'm a bigger puncher than him. I have better knockouts against a higher caliber of opponents and I think he gives you a lot of opportunities because he's an aggressive fighter. He comes in kind of reckless. He leaves himself open a lot and I'm a counter puncher. He's gonna see me. His style works good with my style.
CraveOnline: How do you think he looked in his last performance against Rubio?
Lee: I thought he boxed a good fight. It wasn't anything spectacular. I think with Rubio he could do what he wanted because he didn't respect Rubio's power. He would come forward on Rubio when he wanted. He pushed Rubio back and then when he wanted to take a break Rubio never really pressed him that much. He didn't have any power to hurt him when he did land clean. But I thought he boxed a good fight and he got the win so he did what he had to do to get the win. But it wasn't anything special.
CraveOnline: Chavez will be facing you in El Paso which is obviously close to Mexico. Do you think it helps him more knowing he'll have a hoard of his countrymen cheering him on or do you feel this will increase more pressure on his psyche?
Lee: It's great when you have a crowd behind you and everyone's wishing you well but it also comes with it's own pressures. It also comes with it's own demands. Everyone wants to meet you. Everyone wants to call you. Everyone wants your autograph or photo and there's so much media demands and experiences. All of that is a distraction and it drains you mentally as well. Me and my team have been in here since Sunday. We're nicely settled in to our hotel and we're comfortable. We have our own gym set up here in the hotel and we're just focused on the fight. I think it does have it's benefits to be in your hometown but it also has it's downside as well.
CraveOnline: I'm going to go off topic for a minute here. The whole boxing world or world I should say is buzzing about this. What did you think of the controversial decision in the Pacquiao/Bradley fight?
Lee: You know what's strange, I was watching the fight and because it was delayed, the fight was on about 1:15 am and I went to bed around round 7 or 8 and it looked like Pacquiao was winning the fight easy. It looked like Bradley was spent and I decided I'm going to bed because we had the flight the next day to here and when I woke up in the morning I was shocked to see that Bradley got the decision and everyone was outraged. I think it's bad for boxing especially on such a high profiled fight. Boxing is a tough enough fight as it is but with this bad decisions people have turned off boxing and one thing that may come out of it is that this fight for me will be judged fair because the eyes of the world are on boxing and boxing can't really afford another bad decision. HBO , the pressures on them and the pressure is on the judges now to score the fight fairly because boxing is kind of fought this bad negativity. They're already trying to run boxing down with the fighters health issues and now this thing with the bad decisions. It's really bad.
CraveOnline: That actually leads up to my next question. Everyone's shouting that boxing is dead because of the horrible judging. In your opinion what can be done to improve the poor state of judging?
Lee: I think these judges have to be held accountable. If you're going to judge a fight wrongly you should be suspended. Maybe suspended once and if you do it twice you're out of boxing. These judges, a lot of them have never fought in their life and the boxers put their life on the line when they go out there. Not only in the ring but training as well. They work so hard and sacrifice so much then you have an old guy..you know one of the judges was 74 years old in the Pacquiao fight. He's making a big decision here and he clearly got it wrong. They should be held accountable. There has to be some sort of performance rating for these judges that if you're not good enough you shouldn't be able to judge the top fights.
CraveOnline: That's actually the best solution I've heard so far. The fact of matter a lot of these judges are old and they're seemingly not seeing what everyone else is during these fights.
Lee: And they all have their personal favorites and they are bias. They might feel someone's getting to big for their boots so I'm gonna knock him down a peg. They all have their little friends and they're little clicks so they've got to be held accountable. They robbed a man of his championship. Pacquiao is one of the biggest fighters in the world and he could just walk away from boxing now after such a bad decision.
CraveOnline: I completely agree. This is my last question. Andy, what will happen on Saturday night?
Lee: I see the fight being a tough fight and I obviously believe I'm going to win. I'm going to box through the rounds and keep the fight as much as long range as possible but if I have to go inside I'll fight with him. I see him getting pretty frustrated towards the middle rounds and getting desperate towards the end and getting tired. I see myself knocking him out in the later rounds.
CraveOnline: Good luck man, have a good one.
Lee: All the best, thank you.
Andy Lee will be taking on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for the WBC Middleweight title live this Saturday on HBO's Boxing After Dark. Make sure to tune in. this should be a great one.
Photo Credit: AP