Much of the talk at the press conference surrounded other potential opponents for Lee, namely John Duddy and Matthew Macklin. This trio have the potential to give Irish boxing some of its biggest ever domestic fights. They all fight at or near middleweight and each one is a top class fighter, if not quite world class (yet). More importantly however, each boxer has the ability to entertain and a series of fights between them could give Ireland something similar to the Benn/Eubank/Watson fights in the UK in the early 1990s.
Lee is probably the most naturally gifted of the three. He’s fought 20 times, losing only once in a premature stoppage against Brian Vera. After failing to medal at the Athens Olympics, Lee signed on to be trained and managed by Emmanuel Steward and his Kronk crew. Steward promised much but so far Lee has failed to deliver. Most of his fights have been unimpressive and though he shows some power with several knockdowns, he’s lacked the flashy knockouts you feel he’s capable of. He also has the small problem of being the most in need of this quasi-tournament, hence (I feel) the reasons that it was spoken about today.
Duddy has one defeat, against Billy Lyell in April of this year, but he did bounce back from that with an impressive win over Mexican Michi Munoz in New York on Saturday. He’s now likely to fight in Mexico in December before a mouth-watering clash with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In New York on St. Patrick’s Weekend. It’s worth noting that he’s persuing this course of action (in conjunction with Bob Arum of Top Rank) instead of fighting Lee in Limerick, a fight that he was offered (according to what was said at Thomond Park today).
Macklin, about two years ago, would probably have been regarded as a distance behind both Lee and Duddy. That’s because of the two defeats on his record but they’re not important right now, simply because he’s bounced back from them, and in style. (Ironically, one of those defeats was in a barnstormer against Jamie Moore, who himself could work his way into this potential series of fights, even if he is a way behind the rest, at least until he wins a European Title of his own next week.) Indeed, Macklin is probably our finest middleweight. That’s after his European Title win over Amin Asikainen last month. Macklin blitzed the Finn in one round – take note Andy Lee, this is the sort of thing we need to see from you
They’re three potentially great fighters and they’re all Irish. Anyone who remembers the Benn/Eubank/Watson fights will know how three fighters can capture the attention of the public, and these three fighters have the style to give us classic fights. It is a potential purple patch for the Irish boxing and I, for one, hope that we will see them in the ring together in the not-too-distant future.