Andy Lee vows to knock out Billy Joe Saunders

SportBy Sean McGoldrick
Andy Lee ready to defend his title
Andy Lee ready to defend his title

WBO world middleweight champion Andy Lee has weighed in four ounces lighter than his British challenger Billy Joe Saunders ahead of their showdown in the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.

Saunders, who is unbeaten in his 22 previous professional fights, tipped the scales at 11 stone; six pounds while Lee, who captured the WBO title 12 months ago in Las Vegas in sensational fashion, weighed 11 stone, five pound and 12 ounces.

There was none of the drama which characterised Lee's previous weight-in in Brooklyn, New York last April when Lee's then challenger Peter Quillan failed to make the 160 pound middleweight limit.

Their fight went ahead as a non-title bout with Lee suffering two knock downs in the early stages – one was later deemed as a slip – before recovering to draw with the American boxer who was knocked out in the first round of his most recent contest by American David Jacobs.

The latter is now the new WBA World middleweight title holder and a likely opponent in the spring for the winners of Saturday's clash in Manchester.

“I've spent too long waiting for this fight,'' said Lee immediately after the weigh in.

“I'm now looking forward to doing what I have to do and beat him. I believe I can outbox him and hopefully knock him out, but it's not just about one punch.''

Lee was obviously referencing his devastating right hook which effectively won him his last two big fights – his world title fight last December in Las Vegas against the unbeaten Russian Matt Korobov and against John Jackson, in June 2014 in New York which effectively relaunched his career.

As has been the case during the long build-up to this contest – the fight has been postponed twice – there was no trash talk about the boxers in the traditional face-off after the weigh-in.

Lee draped a tricolour across his naked shoulders much to the delight of his fans in the bunker like room where the weigh in was held as he faced up to Saunders.

The pair exchanged a hand shake and Lee immediately left the stage in order to have his first meal of the day. 

The preliminaries are finally over for this much delayed contest and the action is scheduled to begin after 10pm on Saturday night, with live TV coverage on Box Nation.

By the end of this showdown, Lee will either have ended Saunders' unbeaten record and still be world champion or at 31 he could be facing the prospect of retirement if he relinquishes his crown.