Negotiations are complete for Andy Lee's crack at World Boxing Council [WBC] middleweight champion Julio César Chávez, Jr., June 16 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas, and tickets go on sale this Saturday.
The scheduled 12-rounder will be broadcast live on the HBO cable network's "World Championship Boxing" show beginning at 10 pm EST. The card is billed "Viva Chávez!"
Chávez, a 26 year-old Mexican, is undefeated with a 45-0-1 [31 KOs] record. Lee, who's a year older, is 28-1 with 20 KOs. The Limerick southpaw avenged his only pro defeat last October with a unanimous points decision over Brian Vera in Atlantic City.
"I am facing a tough, difficult opponent in Andy Lee. This will be the toughest fight of my career," said Chávez, in a statement from fight co-promoters Top Rank.
In Lee, who's ranked third by the WBC at 160-pounds and second by both the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization, Chávez will be facing his third Irish opponent. He holds wins over the now retired duo of Oisin Fagan  and John Duddy , both on points.
Lee, meanwhile, is champing at the bit.
"I have been waiting my whole life for this opportunity. It is going to be a great show," he said.
"I'd like to thank Emanuel Steward, Perry Mandera, my entire management team along with Lou DiBella and DiBella Entertainment for everything they have done to make this a reality. I also would like to extend a very special thank you to Top Rank and the Chávez family and Freddie Roach. The boxing world is going to see a World Class Fight!"
Promoter Bob Arum concurred. "This fight between Julio César Chávez, Jr. and Andy Lee is a remarkable one - two young, handsome warriors, from different parts of the world," he noted. "Chávez is from Mexico, Lee is from Ireland and each will be doing his best to make his country proud."
Said Lou DiBella, Lee's promoter: "I am thrilled that Andy is getting his long-deserved shot at a middleweight championship. Julio César Chávez, Jr. deserves credit for taking on the biggest challenge of his career. On June 16 a new champion will be crowned in El Paso, Texas."
"Julio César Chávez Jr. vs. Andy Lee is a terrific match-up that will intrigue fight fans everywhere," said Kery Davis, senior vice president of programming, HBO Sports. "With the Sun Bowl in El Paso as the backdrop this will be a very compelling and significant World Championship Boxing telecast."
Ticket sales begin this Saturday at 2 pm [EST]. They are pegged at $200, $100, $60, $40 and $25 and available from the UTEP Ticket Center, all Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com and by phone at (915) 747-5234.
Kevin "Kid" Rooney won't get a chance to avenge his only pro loss after all when he returns to the ring May 18 at the Times Union Center in upstate Albany. The 4-1 junior middleweight with two KOs to his name was to meet Danny Lugo who handed him a points defeat last October. Lugo has pulled out and will be replaced by the debuting Nick Castaldi, a former local Golden Gloves champion. Tickets are available by calling (718) 823-2000 or from starboxing.com. Rooney, who's 27, is the son of the former Mike Tyson trainer.
HARDWICK FIGHT CANCELED
Dublin native Thomas Hardwick is off this Saturday's Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson II undercard in Atlantic City. The 5-0 heavyweight was to face Tobias Rice, a 4-5 cruiserweight out of Macon, Ga.