From foe to gym mate – Old opponent joins Andy Lee at Boxing Booth

There will be a familiar face around the gym for Andy Lee [34(24)-3(2)-1] over the coming months.

The former WBO middleweight champion is back in training with Adam Booth ahead of his ring return, and has been joined in the London gym by the man who took his title – Billy Joe Saunders [24(12)-0].

The English middleweight knocked Lee down twice in the third round of their bout in Manchster and withstood a late charge from the Irishman to win the title via majority decision. The 2008 Olympian has defended the belt once, labouring to a points win over Artur Akavov. The win in Scotland versus Akavov came following Saunders’ acrimonious split from long-time trainer Jimmy Tibbs, and he was cornered here by Danny Vaughan, Ben Davies, and Johnney Roye.

With Saunders joining the Booth stable it effectively extinguishes any chance of a rematch between the pair – something which Lee had chased in 2016 to no avail – although there will surely be some full-blooded spars over the coming weeks.

Lee is looking to make one last charge to claim world honours for a second time. The IBF, WBC, and WBA titles are currently held by Asian star Gennady Golovkin, whom Lee agreed to fight back in 2014 only for the bout to fall through due to the death of the Kazakh’s father.

World title chasing Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett is also a part of the Boxing Booth stable, while recent world title challenger Charlie Edwards has joined up in recent weeks.

Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey look ahead to 2017 in episode 1 of The Irish Boxing Show

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