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Andy Lee retires from boxing

Andy Lee

By Jim Dower: Former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee announced his retirement on Tuesday after 12 years in the sport. Still young at 33, Lee (35-3-1, 24 KOs) decided to walk away from the sport rather than continue with his career. Lee reportedly decided to retire because of his family. He’s a father now.

It’ll be interesting to see if Lee’s retirement sticks. A lot of fighters retire from the sport only to come back in a year or 2. We’ll have to see if Lee chooses to stay retired or not. Given the opportunity for a big money fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez, it’s hard to believe that Lee would elect to stay retired.

One got the sense that things were not right with Lee after his 8 round unanimous decision win over KeAndrae Leatherwood last year in March. Lee didn’t fight again for the remainder of 2017, and that was odd for him given that he’d been out of the ring for all of 2016. It’s never a clever idea for fighters at the top of their game to take a year off from boxing. It didn’t help Lee’s career at all in him choosing not to fight in 2016. When he did come back against Leatherwood in 2017, he looked rusty and not the same fighter that he’d been in 2015 in his 2 contests with Billy Joe Saunders and Peter Quillin.

The southpaw Lee has talked recently about wanting to fight former IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs, but nothing came of that fight. That would have been excellent fight for Lee, but it would have been a tough one for him given his inactivity in the last 2 years.

Lee captured the WBO middleweight title in December 2014 in stopping Matt Korobov in the 6th round. Lee then fought to a 12 round draw against Peter Quillin in April 2015 in a non-title fight. Quillin had failed to make weight. Lee was dropped twice in the fight in round 1 and 3. Lee later rallied in the second half of the contest to salvage a draw. In Lee’s next fight, he lost his WBO title to Saunders by a 12 round majority decision in December 2015. Lee fought well enough to deserve a draw, but he was the visiting fighter in Manchester, England. There were no breaks for Lee when it came to the judging on the night.

Many of Lee’s best years of his boxing career came when he was trained by the late Emanuel Steward out of Detroit. Lee won most of his fights before Steward passed away. The notable losses for Lee during his time with Steward were to Brian Vera and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. In both fights, Lee slugged it out against those fighters instead of using his height and reach to box them from the outside.

Lee would later avenge his loss to Vera in 2011 in winning a one-sided 10 round unanimous decision. Lee never fought Chavez Jr. again. It’s likely that Lee would have beaten Chavez Jr. if he’s fought him in 2017, because the Mexican fighter really went downhill after his defeat to Sergio Martinez in 2012. The much bigger looking Chavez Jr. stopped Lee in the 7th round in June 2012 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. It was a fight in which Steward was telling Lee to stop slugging with Chavez Jr., but he failed to follow his instructions. It ended up costing Lee the fight.

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