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'I won't be as nice to Billy Joe when we get in the ring' - Andy Lee

The WBO world champion is determined to lose his ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ tag

Andy Lee has laughed off suggestions he's too nice.
Andy Lee has laughed off suggestions he's too nice.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

ANDY LEE HAS dismissed the cordial build-up to his WBO world middleweight title showdown against Billy Joe Saunders and insisted he will be a different animal when he hits the ring on Saturday night.

The pair finally clash at the Manchester Arena for a fight that has been a year in the making, with promotional activity for bout having lasted six months after the clash was twice postponed.

Much of the build-up has centred on the lack of trash talk between the pair with both fighters’ sense of mutual respect stemming from their proud Traveller backgrounds and strong amateur pedigree, but Lee insisted that the lack of hostility in their pre-fight meetings should not leave anyone expecting a polite fight this weekend.

“Myself and Billy Joe have a lot of respect for each other and when this fight is over we’ll shake hands and we’ll see each other around and be friendly, but when the bell goes it’s business,” said Lee at Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference.

I’m a different person when that bell goes, I’m a different man. I’m not the man you see sitting here. The time I walk to that ring, a transition and change comes on me and you’ll see that at the fight…

“When I leave the dressing-room and it’s time to go, that’s when it happens and it’s instant,” added Lee, who insisted he is in top condition, despite the fact that the bout was twice postponed from September and October dates.

“It doesn’t really matter, he’s here, he’s the mandatory and when there was a couple of cancellations I still knew it would happen eventually because we’d agreed to it and we’d signed the contract,” said Lee.

“I’m in fantastic shape. Adam (Booth, trainer) and everyone else involved has done a great job of getting me ready,” said the 31-year-old champion. “This fight has been a long time coming and we’re both eager to get in there and get it on. There’s no point in talking, I know I’m going to win. Everything is drilled in me and you’ll see that on Saturday night.”

While the bout has been billed as a 50-50 clash with the bookies unable to separate the champion and the undefeated challenger, Lee believes that 26-year-old Saunders may be under more pressure in what is his first world-title challenge.

To me it’s another fight, but for Billy Joe it’s the biggest night of his career, but for me it’s another fight and he’s another opponent and that’s the way I’m approaching it.

“He’s very hungry but that may work against him. If he’s eager, it might leave him open and expose him a little, but we’ll see, it’s all immaterial until we’re in the ring.

“There’s always pressure to win from both sides. I’m not sure, I don’t try to gain false confidence from it or how he’s feeling. I only think about myself. I feel very good… and I feel like it could be one of my best fights. My concentration is on me and nobody else,” added the champion.

‘Boxing is an art, but cage fighting is rough and tumble – I’d like to have a go at it’

‘I agreed to let Andy fight for this world title’ – Gambler Saunders thinks he’s on a roll

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Ciarán Gallagher

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