Andy Lee, the Irish middleweight looking to get back on the big stage for another crack at a crown, has an Off-Broadway gig, of sorts, tonight. The 28-year-old, who was a protege of the late sage Emanuel Steward, meets Darryl Cunningham atop a Lou DiBella promotion at BB King's.
I asked the lefty Lee (29-2 with 20 KOs) to give a scouting report on Cunningham (28-4 with 11 KOs), and also what might come next if he does the expected and gets past the 38-year-old Michigan resident who is coming off three straight wins against middling foes.
"He's an experienced southpaw, is cagey, and has lost against better quality opponents," Lee told me. "I don't mind who I fight after this, let's win first and then see how the land lays in September."
Lee got a shot at WBC middleweight champ Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in June 2012 but was stopped in round seven. He's rated as high as No. 8, by both the WBC and WBA. Strangely, a man he beat decisively in 2011, Brian Vera, is ranked No. 7 by the WBC and No. 1 by the WBO. (Come to think of it, "strange" isn't the right word to use for that WBO ranking. "Inappropriate" might be the better word choice. Then again, the middleweight division is in a state of flux, and is waiting for some clarification as some of the talent rises or falls down the ladder.) Vera had upset the then-unbeaten Lee in 2008, stopping him in the seventh round on "Friday Night Fights."
To Lee's credit, he responds to Vera's lofty perch with acceptance, a wise choice considering that if a fighter lets the politics of the sport rev his engine too much, he can get burnt out.
"I'm happy for Brian. Whatever he gets, he deserves," Lee said. "The way he fights, he earns it."
Lamar Russ, Delen Parsley and Tor Hamer are also slated to fight on the DiBella card.