Middleweight contender Andy Lee, who is seemingly being snubbed by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr after the fight was thought to be a target for June, has made an official challenge to Chavez via press release, and wants to face the WBC middleweight titlist in June. Chavez returns to the ring on June 16, live on HBO from El Paso, Texas.
"I would now relish the opportunity to fight for a world title. A title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would be a challenge I would rise to. It is every boxer’s ambition to be a world champion," says Lee (27-1, 19 KO).
"I would love to fight Julio for the WBC title on June 2 or 16, it would be a tough fight but I believe I have the skills to beat him. The Irish and Mexican people like a good fight, so let’s get it on."
Lee, 27, has had a lot of problems making fights in 2012. After a pair of wins on HBO in 2011 -- over Craig McEwan and Brian Vera, the latter a revenge win -- the Irish-American middleweight was set to return on the March 17 Martinez vs Macklin card, but abandoned his slot on that card to land a fight with Felix Sturm in April, which ultimately wound up going to Sebastian Zbik.
Lee's trainer and manager, Emanuel Steward, feels that the fight makes sense from both a boxing and business standpoint.
"Andy has established himself has an entertaining fighter in America and Europe. I think a fight between Andy and Julio would be a great fight; they are two young fighters burning with ambition and have a track record of being in exciting fights," says Steward, who also works as an analyst or HBO.
"Andy is the most prominent and visible middleweight contender resident in the United States at this time; it makes good sporting and business sense for HBO and promoters to make the fight between Andy and Julio."
Lee is currently scheduled to face Alexis Hloros on March 10 in a tune-up, if he can't find anything better. Lee's team say they're confident a fight with Chavez can be successfully negotiated in no time at all. Chavez is rumored to instead be targeting England's Martin Murray. Team Lee suspects that Chavez's handlers are still worried about Lee's southpaw stance, which was also a problem from their side last November, when the Chavez vs Lee idea was first approached.
In all candor, and I mentioned this recently, the Chavez side is really not concerned about their reputation being hurt. Reputation has never been a strength for Junior, and just isn't that big of a factor. Even with all the criticism, he draws TV ratings in Mexico and the States, and puts butts in the seats when he fights. Lee calling out Chavez is good from Lee's side, but if Chavez doesn't want to fight him, he's not going to, and nobody at Top Rank or Team Chavez will lose sleep over it.