19 January 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Andy Lee has stressed John Duddys retirement will not affect his 2011 world title plans.
Lee was last week celebrating finally agreeing terms for a mouth watering break through fight with the Derry native before being bemused by his compatriots retirement just days later.
The Limerick southpaw believed victory in a Duddy bout would have not only given him the opportunity to prove he was the best at the weight in Ireland but would have also ensured the American notoriety the former Olympian craves.
Indeed it was suggested the winner of the St Patricks week Irish brawl which was pencilled in for the under card of Sergio Martinez and Serhiy Dzinziruks WBC world title clash would earn the right to challenge the victor of the main event.
However, Duddy has since opted against the taking part in the eagerly anticipated contest and called time on his distinguished career. But Lee insist nothing bar his opponent has changed.
The Kronk fighter will still fight come March 12 and revealed HBO are demanding he face a marquee name or ranked opponent, meaning a win for Lee still puts him in World title contention. Lee also paid tribute to Warrior Duddy told Mirror Sport.
I was surprised when I heard Duddy was retiring. As far as I knew the fight was all set. But I respect his decision. Boxing is a hard game and like he said, you have to have the hunger for it. John Duddy was a tough warrior who always entertained the fans and I wish him well in whatever he does next in life.
As for me, I will still fight March 12, they’re seeking a new opponent and it will be announced as soon as someone accepts the fight. It will have to be a ranked opponent or someone with a marquee name in order for American TV to approve it. Nothing changes for me, I’m still focused on getting ready for March 12, and I am looking forward to having a good fight.
Andy Lee will be on I Talk Sport on Friday night at 10pm on Setanta Ireland.