ANDY LEE’S trainer Adam Booth has large shoes to fill. Tasked with completing the work of Lee’s late trainer Emanuel Steward, Booth says he and the fighter have forged a friendship that goes beyond just boxing.
The bookmakers have Andy Lee as the underdog, do you understand why?
Of course, yes. Korobov is unbeaten as a pro and he was the number one. Andy was the number three. Andy has lost twice. Korobov is a two-time World amateur champion, so why not? It’s fine.
Why has Korobov not set the world on fire yet in the pros?
There could be a number of reasons. A Russian moving to America, not being settled, life problems, there could be a host of reasons but a good fighter is a good fighter and a motivated good fighter who trains hard is a dangerous fighter and that’s what I’m expecting.
When Lee fought John Jackson in the summer you seemed to take a great deal of personal pleasure from his victory, more so than some of your more celebrated nights, why is it so personal with Andy?
You meet lots of people in life and as we get older you begin to appreciate certain types of characters. Andy became a friend very quickly. We spend a lot of time together. He lives with me in my house in England. He lives in an apartment nearby in Monaco when I’m there. We talk about things outside of boxing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that he’s 16 years younger than me because he’s got the wisdom and manner of someone older. He’s become a friend, a genuine friend and one that I respect and we have a friendship I value. And we knew with the John Jackson fight that winning was not good enough. After such a horrendous start, the first time he’d ever been put down amateur, pro or in sparring, after such a horrendous start the fight got very tense and at that point winning impressively was a little bit further away from him! And we said before the fight that ‘if you don’t win impressively be happy with your career and we will move onto new things.’ Then he pulled that shot out. He looked for it a few times and I was just happy for him because he deserved it and he deserves a chance to be a world champion.
After your splits with David Haye and George Groves, how much did that win mean to you?
It wasn’t for or about me. I’m happy with what I did with Haye and Groves and I’m happy with the decisions I made in the fights we did. So I don’t need to win anything to validate my decisions or why I did things that are in the past. My happiness for Andy was genuine happiness for a friend who knew his career was on the line to pull out a win like that on such a big stage, too. My happiness had nothing to do with anything else.
Far from his career being on the line this time, he’s fighting for a world title…
It’s a world title fight, and we’re right in the middle of the journey and we have a phrase that ‘the destination is the journey itself’ and we’re on a journey that we will be talking about in 10 years time, so we’re just enjoying every day and when the bell rings it’s time to stop thinking and start doing. Andy is genuinely ready to do what he has to do to win this.
When Andy talks about you building on foundations laid by a Hall of Fame trainer in Emanuel Steward, how does it feel that he is entrusting you to finish that job?
Anything Andy says you can’t dismiss as idle chit-chat because anything he says is considered. He is wise and dignified ahead of his years and he doesn’t say things for no reason and he knows I don’t need to hear compliments to do what I want to do. He knows that, and for him to say that and to have that type of respect from a fighter is one thing but to have it from a friend who’s a fighter takes it to a different level.
Does it put pressure on you, that you have to finish the great man’s work?
My work is my work. I said to Andy, ‘Do you want to put Emanuel on your shorts’ and he’s put ‘ES’ on his shorts because victory for Andy is predominantly for Andy but the two people who played a part in that is Emanuel Steward and me. I played my part in it and I’m proud of him.