A historic double helping of world championship boxing could be coming Limerick’s way – over the weekend it emerged that both Willie Casey and Andy Lee could be set for world title shots within days of each other in March.
Incidentally the Limerick pro-boxing duo were both due to have fights over the weekend, but neither bout went ahead. Lee’s weekend fight was cancelled against Poland’s Daniel Urbanski – he was due to fight on Saturday’s undercard of Waldimir Klitschko and Derek Chisora heavyweight world title fight at the SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany.
Klitschko was forced to pull out of the event due to injury and Klitschko’s cancellation meant that the entire undercard was also cancelled.
Willie Casey, meanwhile, was to fight on Friday night in Tallaght, but he was forced to pull out due to illness.
His clash against Manuel Sequera wasn’t be a title defence.
The 28-year-old Southill man can now enjoy his recent EBU European super bantamweight success over the Christmas period and could then headline an event in Cork’s Neptune Stadium on Saturday, January 22 as a warm-up to his title defence against former champion Kiko Martinez in March.
But all that could yet change. Casey could be on the verge of securing a WBA interim super bantamweight title fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Already the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet has been pin-pointed as a potential venue with the weekend of March 18-20 as a possible date.
“We can confirm that the WBA have accepted Willie Casey as challenger for the WBA title. We are at an advanced stage with Rigondeaux’s team, but it’s just talks,” confirmed Daniel Halpin of DolPhil Promotions, who look after the interest’s of the Limerick man.
“Right now we have our eyes on defending against Kiko (Martinez), but if agreements are made and the money is right for Willie we will vacate the European belt and go for the world title, no doubt about it,” said Halpin.
The Cuban-born Guillermo Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic champ, claimed the interim WBA belt on a split decision over Ricardo Cordoba – who was beaten for the WBA title by Bernard Dunne last year – in Texas on October 13 in only his seventh pro fight.
Rigondeaux defected from Cuba in 2009 and is promoted by Bob Arum and Top Rank. The 30-year-old is managed by Cork’s Gary Hyde.
Less than one week before the potential Willie Casey world title fight Andy Lee could also be set for a shot at the big time.
The Castleconnell middleweight has been confirmed as the leading candidate to fight world champion Sergio Martinez next spring.
The bout would likely take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre on Saturday, March 12.
Martinez’ promoter Lou DiBella, spent part of the weekend conducting telephone negotiations with Andy Lee’s manager-trainer Emanuel Steward.
The Argentine-born Martinez (46-2-2), now living in California after nearly a decade based in Spain, was well into his 30s by the time he hit his stride.
Martinez, who celebrates his birthday in February, would be 36 by the time of the fight against Lee.
Andy Lee is currently ranked number nine in the WBA world rankings and now the former St. Francis Boxing Club Olympian must plan for the New Year.
Lee could be set for a rematch against Brian Vera, who inflicted the Limerickman’s only defeat in his 25-bout professional boxing career back in March 2008, but the Limerick middleweight has regrouped to win nine successive fights since that shock reversal.
Other options could see him face Martinez, Miguel Cotto or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr as he bids to fast track his career towards a world title shot.