Middleweight Lee had to flee NY to concentrate on his ascent

New York City is sometimes described as the greatest city in the world. That may be so in some regards, but in the eyes of middleweight boxer Andy Lee, the description doesn't fit.

Lee (26-1 with 19 KOs) came to the United States from Ireland in 2005. He arrived from Limerick, which is known as "Stab City" to some, because of its rough-'n-tumble vibe. He settled with trainer Manny Steward in Detroit, then soon after came to NYC to enjoy some of the buzz Derry transplant John Duddy was luxuriating in.

He lived in New York from 2006-09, but it proved difficult to concentrate on the ring ascent. The 27-year-old Lee spoke to NYFightblog on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference to hype his Oct. 1 bout in Atlantic City. He'll fight Brian Vera at Boardwalk Hall in a rematch of their 2008 scrap, which the heavy underdog Vera won via TKO. This scrap is the top support bout to the Sergio Martinez-Darren Barker main event.

"I liked New York, but I had to get back to Detroit for boxing," Lee told me. "Too many distractions in New York. It's a rat race. You have to hustle for the rent. And then there's the nightlife, the friends. There were good times, but it wasn't good for boxing."

Lee expects he'll get by Vera, who is a banger with skills and endless stamina, this time. His eyes are wide open as to what happened in their 2008 tussle. "The first time, it was on ESPN. I underestimated him. I was unprepared and overconfident. I expected the fight to be another fight in my step up. I was playing to the crowd. I was immature."

If and when Lee gets past the 19-5 Vera, he has his sites set on bigger game in the division. Martinez, like Lee promoted by Lou DiBella, is the marquee name. Lee would welcome a crack at his stablemate. "On any day, I'm as good as any middleweight out there. Sergio is the only guy I would fight and think before, 'You'll go in and win this one easy.'" But I wouldn't be mesmerized by his tricks, his feints. I think good, basic boxing would beat him."