Andy Lee: ďI believe Iím the only middleweight out there that can really beat Martinez because Iím the only one who has something different to offer himĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 144th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with middleweight contender ďIrishĒ Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KOs) who just avenged his only career loss when he won a lopsided unanimous decision against Brian Vera (19-6, 12 KOs) this past weekend. Andy spoke about his performance and also discussed his future. Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
Article posted on 07.10.2011
JENNA J: Iíd like to introduce our first guest of this weekís show. He is making his seventh appearance to On the Ropes Boxing Radio and he is considered one of the top ranked contenders in the middleweight division today. We are joined by ďIrishĒ Andy Lee. How are you feeling today so soon after the fight?
ANDY LEE: Iím feeling good, yeah. Iím a little bit sore. My hands are sore a little bit and my body is sore, but Iím very happy. Itís easy to take the soreness when you win, so Iím very happy.
JENNA: Alright letís talk about the win. It was over three years in the making against Brian Vera. Did you get the revenge you were looking for?
LEE: Yeah I think so. You know I would have liked to get the knockout, but very few people are going to knock Brian Vera out. Heís got one of the best chins I think in boxing. Yeah, I was happy with my performance. I still havenít seen it yet. When I get a chance to see it I will give myself a critique, but I was happy with it. I was just happy to win. I boxed well and all the feedback from people were saying it was a good performance and that I looked well. I want to see it myself, but Iím happy. Iím just happy to win.
JENNA: Now do you think the knockout was the only thing that was missing from your performance? Emanuel seemed very happy with it.
LEE: Yeah it was a good ten round decision and it was an entertaining fight as well. It wasnít like it was a boring one-sided fight. It was entertaining. He landed some good shots on me and was always trying to pressure me. So if I had knocked him out straight away it wouldnít have been as impressive I think. I was happy. It was a big fight for me. It was three and a half years I was waiting to get that chance. To do on HBO when there was a big buildup and a lot of pressure going into the fight. I felt like I had a lot to come through and then eventually I got it out of the way and it was a relief to finally puty that behind me.
JENNA: Now Andy, being in the ring with Brian Vera a second time, what do you think felt different to you in the rematch compared to the first fight?
LEE: I think heís improved a lot. He improved his balance and he definitely had a game plan. I could see he was trying to punch and move to my left with his jab and he was trying to get me to where he could hit me with his right hand. But Iíve improved a lot. Iíve had ten fights since then and a lot of experience. Obviously Iíve studied that first fight a lot so I knew what to do and I expected changes. In every round he started very hard. For the first 35 seconds he pressured me tremendously hard. Then I knew for the first part of the round I would just move and box him, and then he would slow down during the round and I would pick up my pace and maybe box with him a bit more and go to him a bit more. I thought we did a good job. We had a good plan. I knew what I had to do in there and I carried it out. So itís good to go in there with a plan and it was good I just took care of the business and did what I had to do.
JENNA: Andy this wasnít a fight that you had to take, but now that youíve done it and now that youíve done something that a lot of fighters going on to championships havenít done, avenging their only loss, what do you think it does for your career?
LEE: It just gets that monkey off my back. Iíve beaten Vera now and no one can ever mention that loss because Iíve shown how much Iíve grown. If I had gone on to win whatever fight, people would say Vera beat him and would hold it over my head. Now no one can ever hold that over me. When I realized in the ring that I was going to win, I kind of boxed with a little more swagger and a bit more freedom, and thatís what youíre going to see I think in the futureóme performing at my best with that weight off my shoulders. Iím looking forward to by the first quarter of next year, I should be fighting for the title.
JENNA: Alright, well Andy weíre also on the line with my Co-Host Geoff.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hey Andy! Congratulations on the win and itís a pleasure to have you back on as always.
LEE: Yeah, thank you Geoff. Itís good to be on here.
CIANI: Andy Iím wondering if you could walk us through that second round knockdown where just before the bell to end the round, you caught him with a good straight left right near the ear that dropped him. What was going through your mind at that point?
LEE: Well you know, like always when you knock somebody down itís never a punch that you think about it or that you put effort into. I just kind of put a left hand out there and he went down. Half of it was him off balance and half of it was my punch, but he was still hurt by it. I didnít try and go right after when he was hurt. I just resumed boxing. I didnít extend myself fully like I had done before in my previous fight because I was aware of what had happened. So I learned from my previous experience with him. So I just slowly broke him down. He was coming hard in every round, but he was getting hurt when he was coming in. I was strong and my check hook was landing hard. I think when he got caught it didnít really help him either because I could see he was bothered by it. Vera, he fought a tough fight. Iíve got to give him all of the respect in the world. Heís a really hard man to go up with. Heís still a dangerous man. I think heíll beat a lot of guys out there. If theyíre not prepared for him, heíll beat a lot of guys.
CIANI: Now I noticed he was grinning and smirking at you a lot throughout the contest. Did you just take that as him trying to get some kind of psychological advantage over you during the course of the fight?
LEE: You know a lot of people have mentioned that and Iíve all the fight reports, but I didnít even notice it to tell you the truth. It didnít affect me at all. In some ways I knew he was smiling because I had hurt him with a punch because I could see straight after he was smiling. I think thatís just how he fights. Iíve seen it in him previously. Heís expressive and I think thatís just how he fights, but it didnít really bother me one bit.
CIANI: Now Andy, the last time we had you on just before this fight I asked if we could expect to see improvements in your defense from the McEwan fight. I thought your defense looked better, but I was wondering if you could give us your assessment on that front?
LEE: Yeah I think it was better, but it couldnít have been much worse from the McEwan fight. (laughs) I would say it was just my regular. The McEwan fight was such a poor performance for me defensively in those middle rounds that I couldnít do much worse. Yeah I agree with that. Iím still improving. Iím still getting better. For a lot of people who know me, thatís how I box everyday in the gym. People say thatís my best performance, but thatís just been my best performance in the boxing ring, but in the gym I perform much better than that. Once I start transitioning my gym performances into the ring then youíre going to see the best.
CIANI: Andy I also wanted to get your views on the fight that followed yours, Sergio Martinez scoring the eleventh round knockout against Darren Barker. What was your assessment of Martinez on that night?
LEE: Well I came out and the fight was already underway. I was kind of talking to people and people were asking for photos, so I couldnít really get a good watch of the fight. Like I said I havenít seen my own fight yet, so I will sit down and watch both fights. A lot of people said he didnít look good and Barker gave him a good run for his money, but I knew that Barker was a good boxer and that a lot of people underestimated him. Maybe in some way, even though he said he didnít and Iím sure he didnít, but subconsciously Sergio might have underestimated Barker and thatís why he didnít look as good. But one below par performance doesnít make you a bad fighter. What matters is that he won. So it was a good knockout. I havenít seen the fight so Iíd like to see the whole fight, but he won! Heís still the champion. Now he moves on and heís beaten the European champion, an undefeated fighter at that, too.
CIANI: Now before your fight with Vera you told us that you wanted the winner of the fight between Martinez and Barker. Is it safe to assume nothing has changed since then?
LEE: Yeah, nothing has changed. I still want to fight Martinez. Heís the recognized number one middleweight in the world. So whatís the point in fighting anybody else because I could fight one of the other champions, but I still have to beat Martinez to be considered the best. So I want to fight him. By the first quarter of next year I want to be fighting Martinez for the title.
JENNA: Alright now Andy, a lot of people that are even fans of you contend that from what theyíve seen from you in the past that you will not be able to really give that much of a challenge to Sergio Martinez. What do you have to say to those people?
LEE: I would say to those guys, if the fight gets made just watch and see what happens. I believe Iím the only middleweight out there that can really beat Martinez because I am the only one who has something different to offer him. Iím just as awkward as he is and Iím a southpaw. I know heís fought southpaws before and had good results like with Paul Williams. But there is a big difference between me and Paul Williams, and one thing about me is that I punch hard. It would be hard for anyone to take a punch that I throw and not be affected. So weíll see. I want the fight. I have no fear of anybody. Weíll see. Iíd like to fight in December again maybe just as a keep busy fight, and then fight for the title by the first quarter of next year.
JENNA: Okay well Sergio Martinez is a guy thatís always been out there looking for big name fights, and he wants guys from the lower divisions to come up to face him. But do you believe in the middleweight division you are the biggest name available to fight?
LEE: Yeah. I know Martinez and understandably, you know heís been a champion and heís looking for a big fight with a big name like Cotto, Pacquiao, Mayweather, all those guys. But his problem is that heís too good. He might not good those fights because heís too big for those guys and too good for those guys. He might not get those fights, so heíll have to look at middleweight, and I am. I am firmly a middleweight contender now. I worked my way up with two good performances on HBO, Iíve had 28 fights, Iíve avenged my only loss. Who else is out there that could challenge him? Thereís nobody else out there whoís in a better position than me. Iím active, Iím younger, and Iím ready for it. Now is my time. My time is coming soon.
JENNA: People always say that Sergio Martinez is bigger than Pacquiao, bigger than Cotto, and those guys would have to come up and face him. But after the fight it was proposed to him that Bernard Hopkins said heíd meet Sergio Martinez at a catch weight of 170, and Sergio seemed to have no interest at all in fighting above 165 pounds. Iím curious from your perspective, what do you think of him wanting to have guys come up in weight but heís not willing to go up in weight himself?
LEE: Well I think Sergio might not even be a middleweight. I mean he weighed 158 for the fight Barker, and what I heard is he had breakfast and lunch before the weigh-in. So to fight Bernard Hopkins at 170 means heíd be going in there blown-up and then fighting a guy whoís going to be weighing close to 180 by the time the bell rings. So I could understand him not wanting to go up any more weight. Heís already a bit small for middleweight and heís got bigger fights. It just depends on how low he can get and still perform at the weight division. So heís in a tough position really.
JENNA: Alright well besides Martinez and yourself, a big name from the past has recently come back to middleweight. Thatís Jermain Taylor. He recently got a boxing license in Las Vegas. Andy, do you think he has anything left to offer this division?
LEE: He definitely does, yes. Jermain definitely does. If he just gets it together. Heís always been naturally talented, had fast reflexes, and good power, and obviously he was a champion. He has learned from his experiences and hopefully he has learned from his mistakes, and heís still a big name. Heís a good fighter and heís my friend, and Iíd like to see him back and on top again.
JENNA: Okay, well I just have a couple of more questions. You mentioned that thereís a possible December fight for yourself. What type of opponent would you be looking to get in the ring with, given the fact that youíre so close to a title fight right now?
LEE: Iíd like to fight in December just to stay busy. Obviously there have been no formal talks yet, but I mentioned to Emanuel before we parted ways in Atlantic City, I just said letís try and go for a December fight. I feel fine physically. Once the soreness goes out of my hands next week Iíll be back in the gym again. So Iíd like to stay busy and fight regularly. So I donít think it will be a hard opponent. I donít think it will be a dangerous opponent, but every opponent is dangerous. I canít really be fighting any tweety pies at this level. So it would be a serious fight. Iím sure it would be someone who would test me. It would be another fight that I would learn from. Itís not for certain yet, but itís just something Iíd like to do to stay busy and keep active.
JENNA: Well Andy in closing is there anything you want to say to all your fans and the ones who came out to see you in Atlantic City?
LEE: Yeah, for all the people who turned up and cheered for me, it was an amazing atmosphere. I thank you all very, very much. I heard you all throughout the fight. For all of the massive support thank you very much. Itís been fantastic. Itís been a good three years. Itís had its ups and downs, but Iím back now. Iím on top and Iíd like to thank all the people who stood by me, Emanuel especially working with me and training me those three years and before that. Now the future is bright. Thank you all, and thank you guys for having me on the radio show all the time. Iím a big of being on your show all the time and Iíll be on again.
JENNA: Alright, well itís a pleasure as always Andy and we wish you the best of luck going forward.
LEE: Thanks guys. All the best!
CIANI: Thanks Andy. Take care!
LEE: Bye Geoff. Bye bye.
For those interested in listening to the Andy Lee interview in its entirety, it begins approximately nine minutes into the program.
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