by Mike Coffey
The path to success in any career can be potholed. Sometimes you lose the account to someone with experience. Sometimes you fail the test you need to take the next step.
And sometimes, you’re waiting on a willing opponent and a fractured orbital bone.
Such are the hurdles in ND alum Mike Lee’s path as he seeks to improve his ranking in the professional boxing world. He takes the next step this Saturday, battling Allen Medina in a six-round bout on the undercard of the Miguel Cotto – Antonio Margarito rematch at Madison Square Garden — a bout and rematch that seemed in danger of not taking place as recently as a week ago.
Finding willing opponents at Lee’s current career stage, according to the light heavyweight, can be a challenge. At seven wins and no defeats, Lee’s been around long enough to get attention, but not long enough that defeating him is viewed as a feather in the career cap for potential opponents. “We had two or three opponents fall through,” he said in a recent interview. “One guy said he was in, and ended up pulling out. It’s frustrating, because you look at tape of these guys, and then have to look elsewhere. But we just got Allen [Medina] recently, so that’s set.”
Once his own bout was set, Lee then had to worry about the event itself. The state of New York threatened to withhold a boxing license from Margarito until he could prove the recent injury to his right eye was properly healed. With no license, the event would have to be postponed or moved … something Lee definitely didn’t want to see.
“For me, all I could think of was I wanted to fight and I wanted December 3rd to happen. I didn’t care if it was in Mississippi or Denver or New York, I just wanted to be in that ring. But once I found out it was back on in New York, I felt that surge of excitement. There’s nothing like the Garden, and that fight needed to be in New York.”
Even with the perceived pressure of fighting in a pro-Notre Dame town in a legendary venue, Lee believes it will work to his benefit. “If I feel pressure,” he said, “I feel ‘good pressure. If I fought in some small country-club fight in front of 30 people, I’d probably have my worst performance. But I’ve fought on big world-title undercards. Top Rank has shown a lot of faith in me, putting me on stages like Cowboy Stadium and ESPN for my fourth pro-career fight. I really do love it, and I don’t shy away from it … I look forward to the Garden and the pressure.”
Highlights from Lee’s bout with Allen Medina will be shown during the pay-per-view Cotto/Margarito event this Saturday, December 3rd. Tickets are still available at TheGarden.com or at TicketMaster outlets.