12 August 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Emanuel Steward has revealed that a planned bout between Andy Lee and John Duddy was scrapped because of a lack of interest from US broadcaster HBO.
Steward, who trains Limerick middleweight Lee, had been keen to match his protg with New York-based Derry native Duddy.
However, the legendary American trainer claims that HBO were not interested in the fight because Duddy’s stock has fallen dramatically since his shock points defeat by journeyman Billy Lyell in April of this year.
“We were trying to have a fight between Andy Lee and John Duddy, which would do very well in New York, where we were going to have it at,” Steward told On the Ropes radio.
“But HBO said that they weren’t interested, not so much of because of Andy, because since his loss to (Brian) Vera, Lee has knocked out Willie Gibbs in the 10th round and has had two other good wins, but because of Duddy’s last performance (against Lyell).”
Lee, though, has hardly been in scintillating form himself of late. Indeed, while he has claimed three successive wins since his shock stoppage defeat to Vera last year, he looked less than convincing in his most recent outing, a points win over Olegs Fedotovs over six scheduled rounds in June.
However, Steward feels that Lee’s recent injury woes must be taken into account when assessing his recent performances.
“In Andy’s last two fights he’s had eye problems. His cuts have reopened so we’ve had to back off a lot and get surgery,” he explained.
And Steward believes that if Lee can stay injury-free in the coming months it will not be long before he challenges for a major belt.
“If you really look at the middleweight division and think of marquee names, after Kelly Pavlik you’re almost dead,” he argued. “The biggest names are probably Duddy and Andy Lee. It’s a no name division.
“So there’s not that much out there but hopefully if he (Lee) wins two or three more fights he’ll probably be fighting for a title soon.”