Andy Lee's non-title fights ends in draw

The referee signals that the fight has ended in a draw
The referee signals that the fight has ended in a draw

World middleweight champion Andy Lee survived two early knockdowns to draw with unbeaten American Peter 'Chocolate Kid' Quillan in their non-title fight in New York.

The pair fought an engrossing 12 round contest at the Barclays Center in Brooyklyn even though there was no belt at stake after the unbeaten Quillan sensationally failed to make the160 lbs middleweight weight limit on Friday.

The contest was shown live on NBC television in the US which will boost Lee's career in the long term. Early on though it looked as if the Limerick man would suffer an early exit.

Having forecast that the contest could end in the opening three rounds Lee's prophesy looked set to come to pass when Quillan dropped him with a big right with 29 seconds left in the first.

Lee got to his feet quickly but looked unsteady and Quillan had the Irishman on the canvass again but the referee ruled that the punch had come after the bell.

The Irishman survived the second round; mostly by staying out of his opponent's way though Quillan did catch him late on with a flurry of shots which opened a cut over Lee's left eye.

London born Lee was down again in the third but the knockdown ought not to have counted as Quillan was standing on Lee's foot before he connected. The referee missed it, though, which left Lee with a significant deficit to make up on the judges' scorecards.

As in his two previous fights in the US it looked like Lee would have to knock out his opponent to win. While he failed to do so, he did stage a magnificent recovery during the remaining nine rounds to secure an unlikely draw.

It was the first draw of both men's careers, with WBO middleweight champion Lee moving to 34-2-1 and the undefeated Quillin to 31-0-1.

After the explosive start to the contest the pace slackened somewhat drawing boos from the crowds but by the sixth round Lee was starting to get the upper hand and in the seventh he put Quillin down with his trademark right-hook.

Not surprisingly given his difficultly with the weight Quillin visibly tired as Lee dominated the next two rounds before the American rediscovered his power-punching in the tenth.

Lee upped the pressure again in the last two rounds as he looked for the stoppage he appeared to need to get the verdict. And that late surge proved enough to secure a highly creditable draw.

One judge scored the contest 113-112 to Lee, the other 113-112 to Quillin, and the last ruled it 113 apiece.

"It was a hard fight to score. He had the knockdowns, but I boxed consistently, especially down the stretch," Lee said afterwards.

According to reports in the US media Quillan forfeited $125,000 of his 50/50 split of the $1m dollar purse because of his failure to make the weight.

So Lee earned a reported $625,00 dollars for his gruelling night's work.

The draw makes a re-match between the pair an exciting prospect. However, Lee's next fight is likely to be against unbeaten British middleweight Billy Joe Saunders who stepped aside in order to allow the Lee-Quillan contest to go ahead.

A Lee-Saunders showdown could be staged in Ireland during the summer.