20 July 2008 – Mark Doyle
Andy Lee admitted to feeling a mixture of joy and relief after bouncing back from the first defeat of his professional career with an impressive technical knockout of Willie Gibbs, in Limerick on Saturday night.
Lees reputation as one of the most exciting young fighters in the middleweight division was called into question after his seventh-round stoppage loss to Brian Vera in March.
However, he looked every bit like a star in the making in his clash with Gibbs, outclassing his American foe for nine rounds before forcing a stoppage in the tenth and final round.
Im obviously delighted to be back. It was a tough fight, harder than I expected. Willie Gibbs put up a gallant fight, Lee told reporters at the impressive University of Limerick Sports Arena afterwards.
He took most of my best shots and just kept coming back at me. I think he could have finished the fight but his corner were taking care of their fighter. The most important thing in boxing is to protect your guy.
So I was very lucky to get the stoppage but it was a great fight and there was a lot of pressure on me, fighting in my own town in a main event on my comeback from a defeat.
But I handled it and now Im relieved to have gotten through it. Ill take a bit of time off, heal up and then take it from there. I just want to move on now.
Lee suffered a scare in that final round, suffering a massive gash to his forehead after an accidental clash of heads.
Indeed, the heavy-handed Gibbs, who had lost nearly every round up to that point, momentarily looked capable of dropping Lee before the Limerick native eventually regrouped and to devastating effect.
However, The Gladiator admitted after the bout that Lee had been a worthy winner.
I have no complaints. The best man won tonight, Gibbs confessed.
“Andy Lee showed heart and courage in front of his fans. I hurt him in a couple of rounds but he dug deep and followed his game plan, which was to hit and not get hit.
He didnt really allow me to work on the inside, which is where I do most of my damage.
“I had a 15-month lay-off ahead of this fight but I came out and did my best and I just want to say thank you to everyone in Ireland for treating me so well this week.
Look out for an exclusive irish-boxing.com interview with Andy Lee later in the week.