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Could Andy Lee still appear on October 10th card?

There was more drama today in the ongoing saga of Andy Lee’s WBO middleweight world title defence against Billy Joe Saunders. With the fight having already being rescheduled from Thomond Park in September to Manchester in October, bad luck struck again after Saunders sustained a nasty cut in sparring thus further postponing the fight further.

Since the news broke, conflicting messages have emerged from all parties involved. Speaking on social media, Lee revealed that:

Lee would then later tell Newstalk 106’s Off The Ball that the Saunders rematch looks set for early December and “more than likely it will be in London.”

These sentiments were echoed by Saunders’s promoter and manager, Frank Warren, who told the Press Association that “Billy Joe’s got a cut eye, We’re just waiting for the doctor to confirm when he’ll be available. We’re looking to put it [the fight] on towards the end of November, December.”

On the prospects of Lee still appearing on the October 10th card, Warren was not keen, as “I don’t want to get into a situation where Andy’s got to fight and there’s an eight-week gap between the two and he’s then not going to be available to fight Billy Joe so we’re going to wait before tomorrow until making that decision.”

However, Lee’s promoter-manager-trainer Adam Booth seems more open to his charge defending his title against another boxer before facing long-time mandatory challenger Saunders. Following news of the fight falling through yet again, ‘The Dark Lord’ somewhat cryptically tweeted a picture of the WBO middleweight Top 15 rankings.

There is a decent rationale behind Lee appearing on the October 10th card, considering that he now has two half camps under his belt – and a December date with Saunders would be a rather large eight months since his dramatic draw with Peter Quillin in Brooklyn.

Here at irish-boxing.com we are lovers of a bit of speculation and we took a look at some of the potential opponents Lee could face if he does indeed squeeze in a voluntary defence before taking on Saunders.

The WBO Route
Birmingham’s Tommy Langford [13(4)-0] could be the man to benefit from this series of unfortunate events. The 26 year old is handled by Warren and is due to appear on an October 3rd card in Wolverhampton against a to-be-confirmed opponent, however a world title shot may be too good to turn down. The well-suported WBO Inter-Continental champion is ranked 7th by the organisation, and the West Brom-supporting ‘Baggies Bomber’ is also familiar to Irish boxing fans having been the chief support act to Jamie Conlan on the MGM Promotions-Boxnation ‘New Beginning’ card in Dublin’s National Stadium.

Another option could be Hungary’s Lajos Márk Nagy [20(11)-0]. The 24 year old Central European is bafflingly rated 5th by the WBO despite Boxrec viewing him as the 147th best middleweight in the World and only the 2nd best in Hungary. Nagy had previously been touted as a potential home defence for Lee way back at the start of the year before the Limerick man took on Peter Quillin. It is fair to say that the road-warrior Lee deserves an easy defence

A Spike in interest for O’Sullivan
With news of Saunders’s withdrawal, many Irish boxing fans immediately took to social media to demand that Cork’s Gary O’Sullivan fills the void left by the Englishman. O’Sullivan [21(14)-1(0)] is fast becoming one of Ireland’s mot popular fighter since he teamed up with Ken Casey’s Murphy’s Boxing outfit. The power-punching 31 year old has long said that he will fight anyone in the division, and an all-Irish middleweight world title fight would generate huge interest.

All will, hopefully, become clear tomorrow.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie