By Kevin Byrne (follow Kevin on Twitter @kevoobyrne)
A new weight division beckons for Andy Lee, with the Limerick man on the brink of a drop down to light-middleweight.
A career middleweight, going back to his amateur days, his next fight has been made at 157lb – halfway down from 160 to 154.
Lee credits a new scientific approach under trainer Adam Booth, which has focused on controlling his diet.
The Shannonsider, who lived with former trainer Emanuel Steward and even had many of his meals cooked for him by the late, great Detroit master, figures he’s been making weight a bit too easily and fancies a new challenge – and a whole list of new potential targets.
“My next fight’s against a guy called Frank Horta in Denmark on April 12,” Lee said. “He beat Ciaran Healy before, and Dean Byrne as well. The fight has been made at 157lbs, nearer the light-middleweight limit.
“I could be fighting at 154 in the future. We’re using this fight as a testing ground to go down in weight. I’ve made middleweight easily for a number of years. So there is a chance I could be fighting at light-middleweight in the next six months.”
Why now though, after so long at middleweight? This move may seem odd to many who have watched Lee over the years – with many speculating that a move UP in weight would in fact benefit him and add power to his 6ft 2in frame.
But making weight has never been an issue with him, and one of the things about his new set-up under Booth that he’s praised has been the nutritional aspect of his training.
While under the more old-school Steward they chomped down steak and trimmings once a week, the current strictly scientific regime has resulted in a lighter Lee, who added: “Yeah exactly, it’s just a better lifestyle and a better nutrition and better training. I’m walking around at 168, 166 before training – most light-middleweights would be fighting at that weight.
“We looked at my body fat and hydration levels, and if I train and eat right I should be making light-middleweight. I won’t know about who I’ll fight or what I can achieve until I start performing at the weight. But it brings up a whole new list of opponents. All the fights are out there.”
The current champs at 154 are: WBA – Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Brian Erislandy (interim), WBC – Floyd Mayweather Jnr, IBF – Carlos Amado Molina, WBO – Demetrius Andrade.
The unrealistic Mayweather aside, one name stands out – Andrade, who Lee sparred ‘countless’ times in the US. The Beijing Olympian defends his belt against Blackpool’s Brian Rose this June.
After the Horta fight, meanwhile, Lee is slated to return in May on the Matchroom bill at Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff.
And his promoter, Lou DiBella, has claimed the 2004 Olympian is willing to step in for James Kirkland and fight Willie Nelson on May 24.
All the fights are out there, indeed. And while Lee was certainly up for it, they all look little less hurtful than the mooted Gennady Golovkin bout as well.