The absence of Emanuel Steward from Lee’s corner was also lamented by all and proffered as further reason for Irish fans to brace themselves for a stormy night to rival the weather bomb that recently detonated over the Emerald Isle.
Assuming the role of boxing father, the late Steward raised Lee as one of his own in his Kronk gym and family home in Detroit. The last Lee fight he saw from earth was his charge losing to a monstrously big Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. when challenging for the Mexican’s WBC title. There were no excuses given but neither was there any wavering in Steward’s belief that Lee would one day be a world champion. And when speaking boxing, Steward was very rarely anything other than 100% on the money.
Six minutes after the two southpaws had toed the line in Las Vegas last night, very little of note had transpired. It was a cagey opening as both appeared wary of their own jab being countered with overhand replies capable of causing substantially more distress. This thought restricted the amount of eggs either was willing to place in their basket but if anyone did enough to deserve the first couple of stanzas then it was probably the Russian.
Lee had his first success in the third with a left hook that, had it not taken the slightest glance off his foes raised right shoulder, would have been much more telling. It was still enough to get Korobov’s full attention but rather that pile in on top of it, Lee decided to let it simmer. Korobov’s stamina is suspect and perhaps the plan was to take this the distance and apply the pressure late on.
As it was we were spared such early morning championship round drama. After Korobov beat his man to enough punches to earn the fourth and possibly fifth, Lee landed his signature blow in the sixth. “God blessed me with a right hook” said Irish with a broad smile in the post-fight interview. Korobov is just the latest recipient of that heavenly gift to ponder why he has been forsaken from above.
As Korobov lolled on drunken legs it initially looked like that one divine strike may have sufficed. But the Russian’s stance solidified enough for referee Kenny Bayless to allow Lee in for the kill. A frenzied seven second, seventeen punch salvo soon convinced the third man in the ring to save the brave Korobov from himself.
With that Lee was up on the ropes, pointing to fans that had travelled from Limerick, from Detroit, from New York to see him crowned. He’s a popular guy and spend just a minute in his company and you’ll understand why.
In an Oscar-esque acceptance speech he thanked many deserving people but special praise was reserved for Steward and the great man’s family who were also in the arena. It was another one of the many touching moments this brutal sport frequently throws up.
There was talk of defending the title in Ireland and Billy Joe Saunders will certainly have been an interested spectator. But we’ll worry about that another day. Today just savour the fact that Ireland will end 2014 with two world champions.
La la la la la,
La la la la lee,
The WBO champ is Andy Lee.