The undefeated Lee’s first professional title came in his 14th bout and in a division eight pounds above his normal fighting weight. The beat down laid on the seasoned McKay, 18-1 going into the big fight, left Lee’s manager-trainer Emanuel Steward calling out world middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik.
“Andy Lee will beat Kelly Pavlik to become middleweight champion of the world,” Steward, who recently parted company with Jermain Taylor, the man Pavlik dethroned, predicted. “[John] Duddy may not want to fight Pavlik just yet but Andy Lee will fight any middleweight in the world today.”
And quite a few super middleweights like McKay, who holds an amateur victory over Duddy.
McKay’s big mistake, however, was taunting his talented opponent before the fight, claiming that he had no heart. The 30 year-old was duly punished from the first bell.
Lee, a southpaw seven years younger and an inch taller than the 6-foot-one McKay, found the Banbridge man an easy target for his sharp right hand jabs and hooks.
He floored McKay with a right hook in the second stanza and then proceeded to carry the Ulsterman for the next four rounds despite both bleeding from the head from an accidental clash.
Lee’s dominance was such that he could afford to toy around with McKay in the fifth, thumping his heart in reference to his foes pre-fight jibes.
Unable to cause any damage with the punches he landed through the fifth, McKay failed to answer the bell for the seventh after taking a severe beating in the sixth. It went down on his ledger as a sixth round TKO loss.
“I wanted to prove that I have heart” Lee told reporters. “Every time he hit me, I hit him back twice just to show him.”
The Detroit-based Limerick product (14-0, 11 KOs), who will spend the holidays in Ireland before returning States-side in the New Year, endorsed Steward’s world title ambitions for him.
“It’s my dream to get off the plane at Shannon and walk down O’Connell Street and meet the people of Limerick with the WBC belt,” he said.
Promoter Brian Peters, meanwhile, has scheduled a “homecoming” fight for Lee in Limerick early next year.