Why no fuss over Andy Lee?

Credit where credit is due, Conor McGregor cleaned out the reigning pound for pound, number one ranked UFC fighter, Jose Aldo. And, that was that.

However, for those who think boxing turgid or boring – because you’re prohibited from kicking and punching a prone person on the ground – watch this, please!

We’re putting our complete bias out there today. Tonight, what we can only describe as our favourite sportsperson in the whole of Ireland, Andy Lee, (given that Henry has retired) is taking on Billy-Joe Saunders, in what could well be the best sporting occasion of 2015.

This fight tonight, whether or not you give a shit, is a monumental duel, the first time two members of the Travelling Community have fought in a sanctioned world-title fight. Andy Lee, the resilient, southpaw fight-stopper goes against an extremely composed, technically gifted opponent in Billy-Joe Saunders. And, the beauty is, the man out of Limerick is a quietly spoken, gentleman with a right hook that can stop time. If Lee was an outspoken asshole – which, of course, we’re not suggesting any other Irish combatant is – this whole country would be on standby tonight, anticipating what is potentially the biggest fight for Irish boxing since the Collins-Eubank wars.

It’s bemusing for us that a lot of people in this country are completely non-plussed about tonight’s fight. Straight Up Sport and a very esteemed friend of ours were all set to go to Thomond in September when an injury – or something –  waylaid what could have been greatest Irish sports night in 2015, bar Shane Long’s missile into the top left corner.

Tonight’s fight, shamefully underpromoted – and we mean by mass media, not the actual promoters – has the potential to be the fight of the year. And, one has to consider, in all honesty, whether there is a smell of racism to it all. We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time listening to people complain that Tyson Fury isn’t Boy Scout material. Boxers aren’t usually the reference point for humanitarianism and yet when someone like Fury or Saunders – both members of the Travelling Community – are outspoken, the ire escalates. Just, think about it.

When Bernard Dunne beat Ricardo Cordoba in 2009 we almost exploded, even accepting that it was also the day that Stephen Jones kick dropped short. Why then, no opprobrium in the build up to this fight? Irish boxing world champions aren’t ten-a-penny. And, Andy Lee is the type of person who the whole country should get behind. Yet, there seems to be no interest.

Saunders has already said that in the close-knit Travelling community, all that people will remember is the winner and the loser. There will be no in between. This is amazing, simple drama. Yet, how is this not creating more excitement in Irish sport?

With self-righteousness at all-time high, one would think this fight would be excessively promoted, not by people who care about sport but by annoying social-media crusaders. Yet, even for the perceived liberal-minded among us, a lot of our inherent prejudices remain.


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