13 March 2011 – Jonny Stapleton
Andy Lee past the stiffest test of his professional career via a sensational last round stoppage victory over previously undefeated Scot Craig McEwan in Foxwoods Casino on Saturday.
The Limerickman lost a number of key battles on the night, but eventually won the Celtic War clash, showing determination and resolve to come back from behind to stop the Scot just two minutes shy of the final bell. The Detroit based southpaw, who was disappointed with his performance, was trailing on the scorecards with just two rounds remaining of an early fight of the year contender,as unlike when they meet in the amateurs, McEwan was very much on top in the middle rounds.
However, fortune eventually favoured the brave as Lee made the judges opinions irrelevant with an amazing finish. The Emanuel Steward trained pro had his Freddie Roach trained foe on the deck with a smashing left in the ninth and forced the referee to step in and call a halt to proceedings 58 seconds into the last stanza. Despite passing the stiffest test of his career to date, Lee wasnt to happy with his overall display.
The former Olympian, whose victory owes more to will than skill, did put himself on the world title path, but proved he needs to overcome a few more obstacles before he can challenge the likes of Serigo Martinez.
I wasnt happy with my performance. I hurt him early in the fight and I think that worked against me. I loaded up too much. I got into that habit and it was tough to get out. In the middle rounds I thought I was losing the fight. It was a big opportunity so I said to myself if Im going to lose hes going to have to kill me, Lee said after the chief support bout to Sergio Martinez and and Sergei Dzinziruk WBC world middleweight clash.
Eventually I caught him at the end. I was fortunate but I deserved it. I dont know what round it was but something inside me said I was going to take it. He boxed well. It was hard. I respected him before the fight and more now.
I won the ninth, 10-8, but knew I needed a big finish and not leave it to the judges. It wasnt my best performance but it was a great victory. It was a hard fought fight. I showed courage and heart. I will get better, Lee, who ironically resembled the fighter he was initially pencilled in to challenge, John Duddy, at times added before reflecting on Martinez.
Sergio has great speed. Hed be a tough challenge for me.
Meanwhile another Irish fighter took the short route to victory on Saturday.
Stephen Ormond stopped the durable Mickey Covney in round seven of their bout on the under card of fellow super featherweight Ricky Burns routine world title defence in Scotland. Ormond, who has 2011 title aspirations, will appear on Scot Burns next defence in the summer and will be hopping to make another step up in class.