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Andy Lee drops off March 17 card

Middleweight contender Andy Lee, whose management has been squabbling with promoter Lou DiBella over potential opponents, on Friday dropped off the HBO undercard of the March 17 fight card at Madison Square Garden Theater in New York.

Lee, who is from Ireland but lives in Detroit, was one of the main draws on the show, which takes place on St. Patrick's Day.

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez defends his lineal title in the main event against Irishman Matthew Macklin, so a heavily Irish crowd still is expected.

DiBella told ESPN.com that the new co-feature for the HBO broadcast will be a super middleweight match between blue-chip prospect Edwin Rodriguez (20-0, 14 KOs), of Worcester, Mass., and Donovan George (22-1-1, 19 KOs) of Chicago.

"HBO has approved the fight and in terms of a style match-up, it doesn't get any better," DiBella said. "If you like offense and punching power and guys who come to fight, it doesn't get any better. This fight has zero chance of stink-ability."

DiBella, HBO, and Lee's manager and trainer, Emanuel Steward, had run through a variety of potential opponents for Lee but could not agree on one.

The bouts with opponents they could agree on could not be made for various reasons, mainly financial.

Fighters discussed included Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin; former title challenger Martin Murray; and George, who would have met Lee at a catch weight of 164 pounds.

"Due to the unavailability of a suitable world-ranked opponent, Team Lee have collectively decided it is in my best career interest to pass on a fight on this occasion," Lee said. "I would like to thank my promoter, Lou DiBella, and HBO for planning to have me on the card and for their efforts to secure a suitable opponent for me from the limited boxers available."

DiBella told ESPN.com that another reason Lee (27-1, 19 KOs) is off the show is because there is a possibility he could challenge 160-pound titlist Felix Sturm (36-2-2, 15 KOs) in Germany on April 13, although Sturm may wind up facing mandatory challenger and interim titlist Gennady Golovkin.

"Andy wanted a bigger fight," DiBella said. "He didn't want to put all his high rankings in the organizations at risk for a fight that wasn't a big fight and, simultaneously, the possibility of Sturm also arose. He wants to pursue a bigger fight instead of a low-budget risk fight."

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.