by Charles Jay
Emanuel Steward has been talking about Andy Lee ever since he turned pro, and we are perhaps all about to find out just what he can do.
He’s aiming at WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., a young man with a number of options, and he’s trying to keep busy in the meantime.
Lee, who has been living in one of Steward’s homes, is one of the young stars that Emanuel Steward is using to revive the Kronk Gym. Not that it’s down and out, but it wasn’t all that long ago that Steward was trotting out one fighter after another with the trademark gold trunks that became identified with the gym, including over a dozen world champions. And as Steward has been working more and more, around the world, with fighters who were developed elsewhere, that has slowed.
Steward wants those days to return.
“We’re going to build boxing back up in Detroit,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “This is just one fight. I hope to have a fight every other month. We’ll produce world champions from the Kronk again.”
Toward that end, “Kronk Fight Night” is slated to happen every other month. This one is the “Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Brawl,” which may be a week early, but hey……
The opponent for Lee was to be Alexis Camacho, a veteran based out of Texas. But coming in as a late substitute is Saul Duran, a 39-year-old who once boxed to a draw in a fight for the WBA title – at 130 pounds, and in 1999.
No, it’s not an acid test for the Irishman, but it’s a way of keeping busy, and it’s the headliner on a show that gives the Kronk guys some exposure.
The show will be at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Detroit, and features a number of Kronk fighters.
Lee got past a career hurdle in his last fight, winning an easy unanimous decision over the only man who had defeated him. Brian Vera stopped him back in March 2008, and on October 11 of last year Lee got that win back by pitching a near-shutout, which included a knockdown of Vera in the second round.
Lee was the middleweight representative for Ireland in the 2004 Olympics. In one of his bouts in Athens, he beat Alfredo Angulo, who briefly held the WBO interim title, before dropping a decision in his second round of competition.
As a 6’2″ southpaw, he is generally not the type opponents line up to fight, and that is something that could surface at this level. Remember, even though Chavez is being mentioned as a June opponent, he hasn’t agreed to anything yet. Thus far Lee has risen to a top ten ranking without all that many road blocks, aide from that loss to Vera. Veterans well past their prime, such as Carl Daniels and Mamadou Thiam, were disposed of. Fighters like Willie Gibbs were caught in the midst of losing streaks, and there have been some journeymen.
But win last March over previously-undefeated Craig McEwan, who had beaten Vera and Danny Perez, opened some eyes, and then Lee navigated his way past Alex Bunema, who is on the downside but could still present some problems for a less experienced foe.
Working with Lee represents Steward, in a sense, getting back to his roots. Even though Lee is not from Detroit, Steward has taken him from the ground up in his pro career, and this has been a change of pace from what people have seen from him in recent years, as he has been in demand by world contenders and champions to take them over and “tweak” them.
If he’s tutored Lee well enough to win a world title, those happy days may be back in the Motor City once again.