13 October 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Andy Lee will have his third outing in his native Limerick when he takes on European Union middleweight champion Affif Belghecham at the University Sports Arena on November 14.
Belghecham, 35, hails from Lyon in France and has won 19 of his 23 professional bouts to date, with just three defeats and one draw and Lee is expecting a difficult fight.
“Ive watched him in action and hes going to be a very tough opponent,” he said. “Hes the current European Union Champion and is coming into this fight on the back of some very good wins. Hes never been stopped so it could be a tough night but Im really looking forward to it.”
After claiming stoppage wins in his two previous appearances in his hometown, against Alejandro Falliga and Willie Gibbs, Lee is understandably excited by his imminent return to Limerick.
“Its great to be fighting at home again,” he enthused. “It always means that little bit more when youre fighting in your hometown. Ive always got tremendous support from the people of Limerick right from my amateur days they have always backed me 100 percent so Im always trying to repay that support.
“Even the week building up to a fight in Limerick is special because everyones wishing you luck and coming up to say hello and its great to have that kind of support. Then on the night you can pick out so many people in the crowd that you know and it really gives you that extra push.”
Lee is hoping that an impressive win over Belghecham will propel him towards a major title fight in the New Year. Indeed, the classy southpaw is particularly interested in what would be a mouth-watering match-up with European and British champion Matthew Macklin.
“Obviously that would be a big fight and it would be great if it happened but right now Im only concentrating on this fight,” he insisted.
“The European scene at Middleweight has really come to the fore recently and outside of Kelly Pavlik the other champions in the division, Felix Sturm, Sebastian Sylvester and Sebastian Zbik are all based in Germany so the Europeans are starting to dominate.”
Lees promoter, Brian Peters, is also confident that Lee is on the verge of securing some career-defining fights
“We tried to make a fight between Andy and John Duddy for next month and when that didnt come off we looked at a rematch with Brian Vera but unfortunately neither party was interested, he revealed.
“To Andys credit he was up for both of those fights and that shows you his mentality. He doesnt want any pushovers and hell certainly have his hands full with Belghecham because hes a quality operator and will provide Andy with a very stiff test but if he can come through this then Im sure there could be some massive fights around the corner for Andy.”
Details of the undercard for the University Sports Arena on November 14th will be announced shortly. Tickets for the Yanjing Fight Night priced from 40 will go on sale from Ticketmaster (phone 0818 719 300 or visit ticketmaster.ie) and all usual outlets from 9am tomorrow (Wednesday, October 14th)