December 16th, 2005 – by Tomás Rohan
After months of speculation Andy Lee finally put pen to paper on a five-year professional contract this week. The Limerick southpaw finally put pen to paper on Wednesday night agreeing terms with renowned U.S. trainer Emanuel Steward.
Steward who has trained the likes of Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, the Klitschko brothers and Lennox Lewis hopes to add Lee to his extensive list of World Champions.
The Athens Olympian has spent the last two months in the U.S. training at Steward’s famous Kronk Gym in Detroit and spending time in a Californian training camp with Wladimir Klitschko.
Lee described agreeing terms with Steward as, “a dream come true”. “I am over the moon that the deal is sorted, the perfect Christmas gift for any boxer; I can now look forward to starting my professional career in the New Year.”
Steward is expected in Dublin next week to hold a press conference with Lee to but speaking from Detroit he said, “I am elated the waiting is now over and Andy Lee is joining the Detroit Kronk Gym. I have no doubt Andy has a phenomenal talent to be an international star and is capable of being a world champion the Irish people can be proud of.”
“In the sport, Andy has proved himself to being a world class amateur, now is the perfect time aged 21 to make the transition to the professional ranks and excel to greater heights.””
A date has yet to be confirmed for Lee’s pro debut but his advisor Damian McCaan who also runs the Kronk Gym in Belfast says he expects Lee to have a busy start to the New Year.
“No dates have been confirmed yet but the idea would be for Andy to have his first few fights early in 2006 in the U.S. Then maybe in his third or fourth fight he could come back to Ireland for his first fight as a pro back home. Hopefully that can happen before the summer.”
Lee has been one of Ireland’s best amateurs in recent years and was the sole boxing representative on last years Athens Olympic team. A three time National Senior Champion the St. Francis clubman’s International honours include a World Junior silver medal and a European Senior bronze medal.