January 5th, 2006 – by Tomás Rohan
Limerick’s Andy Lee has finally been handed a date for his professional debut. And a dream date it is too. Lee’s trainer, Emanuel Steward wants the 21-year-old southpaw to top a bill at the 20,000 seater Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on February 17th.
It would provide Lee with a tremendous platform from which to launch his paid career and Steward has every confidence in his new charge to go all the way.
The legendary U.S. trainer revealed that one of his New Years resolutions was to have Lee considered one of the top prospects in boxing by the end of 2006. He went on to compare the Athens Olympian to Roy Jones Jr. in terms of ability.
“I’m just as excited as when Roy Jones came out in 1988,” said Steward. “I compare him to that level of talent. He’s colourful, accurate, and flashier than Michael Moorer at light heavyweight.”
Stewards ringing endorsement is backed up by his plan to have Lee headlining a card on his pro debut. When asked if this was a bit much to ask of a new pro Steward shrugged, “Tommy Hearns’ debut was a main event too.”
Steward is probably best known for guiding the “Hitman” Hearns to five world titles in successive weight divisions from welterweight to light heavyweight. However in recent years he has become something of a “hired gun” for some of the top names in the sport including Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield, the Klitschko brothers, Oscar De La Hoya and Naseem Hamed.
Now he’s hoping to add Lee to his list of world champions. An opponent has yet to be confirmed for Lee but following a short break at home in Limerick over the Christmas period Lee will head to Detroit early next week to begin preparations.