Irish ace Andy Lee says the ‘monkey is off his back’ now he is world champion, claiming his opponent Peter Quillin will be the one under the cosh this Saturday night.
The middleweight star, who won the WBO crown last December with a sensational sixth round stoppage of formidable Russian Matt Korobov, makes the first defence of his world title at the Barclays Center in New York, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Taking on the former champion Quillin, who vacated the belt, 30-year-old Lee claims he goes into the fight under no pressure having finally fulfilled a lifelong ambition by becoming world champion, with him now putting it on the line in his opponents backyard.
“There’s been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders since winning the world title. It’s what I always wanted to do and I’ve been touted as a champion for years and if I never got it I would have been disappointed. Now the monkey is off my back and I can just box and show people who I am,” said Lee.
“Fighting at home like Quillin is on Saturday, brings a different kind of pressure to the table, it’s the pressure of expectations and people you know coming to the fights. That’s also pressure and I know all about that,” he said.
Lee, a former protégé of the late and great trainer Emmanuel Steward, has linked up with the respected Adam Booth, who will be looking to mastermind another upset against the undefeated Quillin.
Both men are renowned for their punching prowess, with Lee scoring 24 knockouts from his 34 wins and 31-year-old Quillin 22 from 31 wins, but Limerick’s Lee will be looking to both box and bang when the bell sounds this weekend.
“I think this could be a technical fight or it could be a bit of a fire fight. It’s going to be a little of both at times. There will be moments where we’re looking at each other, figuring each other out, but once we exchange it could be explosive,” said Lee.
“We’ve made unbelievable progress in the last year on my skills and everything has really just clicked for me and my team and now we’re seeing the results in the ring. “There have been physical and tactical improvements in the gym since the last fight and hopefully they’ll show up in the ring on Saturday,” Lee said.
‘Kid Chocolate’, as the charismatic Quillin is known, has gone through a rollercoaster year with the birth of his first son Joaquin Enriquez before the death of his uncle to pancreatic cancer.
Now though, Quillin is ready to move on and for the challenge which awaits him in the ring.
“My whole life has been struggles and I’ve had to overcome every single one of those struggles. This is going to be no different from that.
“Being a father of course made me more inspired and watching my uncle pass has made me more motivated than ever to accomplish everything I want,” said Quillin.
“A lot of people had Lee as the underdog in his last fight but he came out and did great. That’s the thing about boxing; one punch can change the fight.
“It’s a big fight for him and a big fight for me. He’s a smart fighter when he’s in trouble so I have to watch out for that. Most importantly I just need to be true to myself,” he said.
Also featuring on the card this Saturday night will be the mouth-watering showdown between light-welterweight champions Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson in a 12-round contest.
Lee and Quillin are expected in the ring at 1.45am UK, kick starting a fantastic night of live boxing action on BoxNation.
Lee v Quillin is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky 437/490HD, Virgin 546 and TalkTalk 525) this Saturday night. Visit boxnation.com to subscribe.