Andy Lee says all the pressure is on challenger Peter Quillin in New York
WBO middleweight champion in confident mood
Last Updated: 10/04/15 12:54pm
Ireland's Andy Lee insists the pressure is all on challenger Peter Quillin as he looks to defend his WBO world middleweight title in New York on Saturday.
The fight is taking place in Quillin's home city of Brooklyn and even though 30-year-old southpaw Lee (34-2 24KOs) is the champion, he goes into the fight as the underdog.
Quillin vacated the belt seven months ago instead of facing mandatory challenger Matt Korobov, who then boxed Lee for the vacant strap and was halted by a right hook in the sixth round.
"Fighting at home like Quillin is on Saturday, brings a different kind of pressure to the table. It's the pressure of expectations and people you know coming to the fights."
Lee, now trained by Adam Booth in London, is brimming with confidence and has no qualms about having to fight in Quillin's backyard.
"We have made unbelievable progress in the last year on my skills and everything has really just clicked for me and my team and now we are seeing the results in the ring," said Lee.
"I'm very proud to be an Irishman from Limerick defending his world championship in New York. It doesn't get much better than that.
"There has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders since winning the world title. It's what I always wanted to do and I have been touted as a champion for years and if I never got it, I would have been disappointed. Now the monkey is off my back and I can just box and show people who I am.
"We have made physical and tactical improvements in the gym since the last fight and hopefully they will show up in the ring on Saturday.
"I think this could be a technical fight or it could be a bit of a fire fight. It's going to be a little of both at times. There will be moments where we're looking at each other, figuring each other out, but once we exchange, it could be explosive.
"Quillin is sure of himself, but he has to be, I have the same mentality. You have to be to compete in this sport.
"Fighting at home like Quillin is on Saturday brings a different kind of pressure to the table. It's the pressure of expectations and people you know coming to the fights. That's also pressure and I know all about that.
"I haven't needed to build up my confidence for this fight. It's not time to think. It's time to do what I have been doing every day in the gym."
Quillin (31-0 22KOs) has plenty of respect for Lee but believes he is a cut above the fighters Lee has faced in the past.
"It's a big fight for him and a big fight for me," said 31-year-old Quillin. "He's a smart fighter when he's in trouble, so I have to watch out for that. Most importantly, I just need to be true to myself
"A lot of people had Lee as the underdog in his last fight but he came out and did great. That's the thing about boxing: one punch can change the fight.
"I'm getting paid for 12 rounds so I'm preparing for 12 rounds but if I can get him out of there early, I will.
"My whole life has been struggles and I have had to overcome every single one of those struggles. This is going to be no different from that.
"Being a father of course made me more inspired and watching my uncle pass has made me more motivated than ever to accomplish everything I want.
"When I gave up the belt I learned that I can be a bigger man and make tough decisions like that all of the time. People think losing is easy, but winning all the time is a different kind of pressure."