WBO World Middleweight champion Andy Lee(34-2, 24KO’s) will defend his title against the man who used to wear it; Peter Quillin(31-0, 22KO’s), according to an article posted on boxingscene.com by Rick Reeno and Steve Kim on February 5th.
The news contradicts the previously-held belief of many that Lee would make his first defence against the Brit Billy Joe Saunders(21-0, 11KO’s), who earned the number one contender position for the WBO with a win over Chris Eubank Jr in November. It turns out this was an issue that needed to be tackled in order to make this fight happen.
“Promoter Lou DiBella had to overcome a major obstacle to get the deal done – a mandatory defence owed to Billy Joe Saunders. DiBella was able to work out a step-aside agreement with Saunders and his promoter Frank Warren. Saunders will be in line to face the Lee-Quillin winner.”
Even though, Saunders will have to wait just a little while longer for his chance at world honours. I am sure he was handsomely rewarded for his generosity in letting the former champion attempt to reclaim the belt he relinquished last year. Quillin was mandated to face Matthew Korobov and instead chose to vacate, enabling Lee to fill his place and contend for the vacant title, where he stopped the undefeated Russsian in the sixth round with a merciless barrage after a stiff, southpaw right hook froze him in his tracks.
Now the only thing postponing Lee’s first defence is “a sanctioning letter from the WBO”, the receipt of which will mean the fight can be officially announced, and it seems all of the other logistics have already been arranged.
“The fight is likely going to take place on April 11th, as part of Al Haymon’s ‘Premier Boxing Champions’ broadcast on NBC. The card will be headlined by a junior welterweight fight between Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson, who collide at a catch-weight of 143-pounds [meaning neither of their title will is on the line]. The frontrunner to host the NBC doubleheader is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York – and there are ongoing discussions with the venue.”
That will be a huge platform for both fighters; boxing’s come back to network television in the States on a card with other well-known names. The assignment is a tough one for both too, but I think the champion goes into it on better form having pulled out two spectacular stoppages in his last two bouts, whereas Quillin’s decision to forgo his obligations as a belt-holder has kept him out competition since last April.