ANDY LEE BELIEVES that the change of location plays into his opponent’s hands, but Billy Joe Saunders says he’s not counting on home advantage.
The pair will fight for Lee’s WBO middleweight world title at The Manchester Arena on Saturday, 10 October. However, the bout was originally scheduled to take place next month at Thomond Park in Lee’s hometown of Limerick.
The date and venue were changed after it emerged that Lee has been suffering with a virus, so promoter Frank Warren held a press conference this afternoon in Manchester to officially announce the amended details for Lee’s inaugural title defence.
When asked about fighting on English soil instead, Hertfordshire native Saunders said: “I’m not looking for no advantages or no help in that ring when I’m in there. But to win it in front of my fans, you know, it’d be a dream come true. I’m classing Manchester as my own. This is England.”
Andy Lee said he’s recovering well from his illness and expects to return to training later this week.
During the press conference, the 31-year-old reiterated his disappointment at having lost the opportunity to have his first official title defence in his native Limerick.
However, Lee knows he’ll need to be at full fitness in order to see off the challenge of Saunders, particularly with the fight now set to take place in England.
Lee said: “It’s a 50/50 fight. Now that it’s in Manchester it’s even closer than it was before. The thing that makes the fight special is that there’s a lot of pride on the line.
“There’s always pride on the line when you’re fighting, I guess, but this one especially with our backgrounds. I’m going to leave it in the ring. I know he is and he knows I am. Pulling out in Limerick, I have to be at 100% because I know how hard this fight will be.”
Lee versus Saunders will headline a card which will feature two other world title bouts: WBO lightweight world champion Terry Flanagan versus Diego Magdaleno, and Liam Smith versus Michael Soro for the vacant WBO light-middleweight world title.