Middleweight contender Andy Lee returned with a vengeance on Wednesday night in New York, needing just 87 second to knock out Daryl Cunningham on promoter Lou DiBella's "Broadway Boxing" card at BB King's Blues Club.
The win was Lee's second in a row since getting stopped in the seventh round in a middleweight world title fight by then-titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last June in El Paso, Texas.
It was also Lee's second fight with new trainer Adam Booth, who Lee hired after longtime trainer and close friend Emanuel Steward died in October.
Ireland's Lee (30-2, 21 KOs), 28, who now trains with Booth in England, stunned fellow southpaw Cunningham (28-5, 11 KOs), 38, of Detroit, with a left hand and was all over him. He trapped Cunningham on the ropes and let his punches fly. Cunningham was taking heavy punishment when referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stepped in.
"Onward and upward from here," Lee said after the fight. "I feel like I am at the top of my game right now and obviously the No. 1 guy in the middleweight division is Sergio Martinez and that is the fight I want. We have the same promoter in Lou DiBella, so I feel like it is an easy fight to make and one that is very attractive for the middleweight division. I know that Sergio is taking some time off [because of a knee injury], but I'll be ready for him once he is ready to go."
DiBella was impressed with Lee's performance.
"It was very explosive," DiBella said. "He came out like he had the intention to hurt him from the get-go and he did. I thought it was very impressive. Adam Booth told me before the last fight, 'You gotta give me a couple of fights with him because we're working on some things, so it won't happen in one fight.' But Andy looked like a beast.
"I think he's ready to go into a more substantial fight and there are tremendous fights to be made in the middleweight division."
With Martinez on the sidelines, probably until at least next spring, DiBella mentioned some other potential opponents for Lee, including Martin Murray, Darren Barker and the winner of the June 29 fight between titleholder Gennady Golovkin and Matthew Macklin.
With Lee being from Ireland and Murray, Barker and Macklin (who is Irish) all being from England, DiBella noted that those fights are a natural.
DiBella also said that he would like to try to get Lee a shot at titlist Daniel Geale of Australia, whose next fight likely will be in the United States on promoter Gary Shaw's HBO "Boxing After Dark" card in August.
"That's a fight we would be very interested in and I think that would be a helluva fight in the ring," DiBella said.