- Latest: Billy Joe Saunders beats Andy Lee by MD
- Ring walks for main event expected at around 10.15pm
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That's all from me fight fans. It hasn't been a great night for Irish boxing, sadly, but congratulations to Billy Joe Saunders, a worthy winner and rightfully now a world champion. Good night folks.
Videos of Saunders' emphatic third round knock-downs are have already surfaced on You Tube. Here he is doing some serious damage to Lee for those who haven't seen it.
Right, it's nearly time for me to head to the post-fight press conference. Hopefully Andy will be able to shed some light in his below-par performance.
For confirmation, here's the new WBO World middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders.
Again, credit where it's due for Lee, many fighters would never have recovered from two knock-downs so early on...
— Chris Suitor (@SuitorMenswear) December 19, 2015
Glad I'm not the only one who thought that judge's decision to draw was bizarre...
Time for some reaction from the fans now. Limerick folk are still proud of Lee despite defeat.
— helenhanley (@glenameadenelli) December 19, 2015
Ever the gentleman, Lee congratulated Saunders right away. Here's the moment the decision was announced by Jimmy Lennon Jr.
Fair play to Lee, he got up from two heavy knockdowns and finished the fight, but he was second best on the night. A real shame for the Limerick man. Get in touch with your thoughts on the fight - [email protected] or tweet us @IrishPostSport.
— Sportsfile (@sportsfile) December 19, 2015
It has to be said, Saunders was the worthy winner. Not sure how one judge scored it a draw. Personally, I don't think Andy Lee showed up tonight, he was relying too heavily on his huge hook, which never landed cleanly all night. Saunders was smarter, had a good defence when attacked, and fully deserved the victory.
23.15 - Decision time
The judges' cards read as follows...
Despite one judge scoring it a draw, Billy Joe Saunders is the new WBO World Middleweight champion by Majority Decision.
23.11 - Round 12
There goes the final bell. Both fighters raise their arms, but the expression on trainer Adam Booth's face suggests he knows Andy Lee has lost this fight. He gave it a good go in the final round, but it was too little too late. We go to the scorecards...
23.07 - Round 11
Lee lands the best shot of the round - a big left hook - but Saunders shakes it off and as we head into the final round, the challenger looks a worthy new champion. Unless, can Lee find that one punch he's been looking for?
23.03 - Round 10
There's so much respect between these two fighters, but maybe Andy is showing too much to Saunders? After improving in the ninth, Lee regressed in the tenth. Time is running out for him.
22.59 - Round 9
That's better Andy. Saunders drops his guard for once and Lee lands a straight right. 'Good shot' mouths Saunders to his opponent, yet he was unhurt by it.
22.55 - Round 8
The fighters touch gloves at the end of the round, as they have done on each occasion. Still not much coming from Lee, he's looking for that big hook all the time, we can only pray one finally lands flush soon.
22.51 - Round 7
Andy is still losing the jab exchanges, that's another round nicked for Saunders from where I'm sitting. Lee is now heavily reliant on the huge power he has in both fists.
22.47 - Round 6
That's a bit better from Lee, there's more venom in his punches now, but still not enough to rock Saunders. We've seen Saunders fade in the second half of fights before, so now it's really time for Lee to up his game.
22.43 - Round 5
Still not much coming from Lee, he's not throwing anything other than the big shots, which aren't landing. He's way behind on the scorecards now and at this rate he'll need a KO to defend his title.
22.39 - Round 4
Much quieter round that, which is good for Lee, who didn't throw much as he looked to regain his composure. Saunders didn't throw a lot either, but he looks the more confident fighter now. On to the fifth.
22.35 - Round 3
Wow. What a round for Saunders, who put Lee down twice to take a 10-7 round. Lee's legs looked gone. We've seen him get off the canvas and go on to win and draw before, but how much has that taken out of him? We go into the fourth with the champion in trouble.
22.31 - Round 2
Sill a bit cagey, but the fight opened up a bit in the latter stages of round two. Lee connected with a big left which Saunders felt, but generally the Englishman's guard is very good. Saunders still looks the busier at the moment but there's not much in it.
22.28 - Round 1
Cagey opening round. Saunders probably landed more jabs than Lee, who threw that huge hook a few times without connecting. Difficult one to call. The Irish fans are in full voice though. 'Ole, Ole, Ole...'
Here we go, Jimmy Lennon Jr is just about done introducing both fighters. The atmosphere is electric. Stand by for round by round updates!
Here's where we're sat, by the way.
Billy Joe has entered the ring, meanwhile, here comes big Andy, with both fighters choosing classic 80s pop sounds to enter to. Nice touch.
Still time for another quick soundbite. Here's Olympic champion Luke Campbell, who's sitting on the fence.
The ring girls are holding an Irish tri-colour and England flag to represent both fighters. The Christmas songs are being banged out now - Slade at the minute - but Billy Joe will grace us any second now.
Time for more audio now. Here's more from another Sky Sports Boxing pundit and former world champion - Glenn McCrory, whose wife is from Donegal did you know? His grandfather was from Omagh too.
Here's some facts and figures on both fighters, Lee must really use that height and reach advantage, as he so often does. Although they've got Andy's country wrong (why does that keep happening?!). He's London-born, but as Irish as they come! Proud Limerick man.
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) December 19, 2015
Thankfully, Fairytale of New York followed up Scooter, much to the crowd's delight. Not long now until the walk-ins, with Billy Joe scheduled to come out first at 22.15. Send us your fight predictions and we'll publish a handful. E-mail me at [email protected] or tweet us @IrishPostSport
Scooter is being pumped out of the PA system here at the Manchester Arena. Who remembers Scooter? Awful music.
Time to hear from the experts now. You may recognise this face, it is of course Johnny Nelson of Sky Sports Boxing, and a former world champion let's not forget. Have a listen to how he sees Lee v Saunders going.
Plenty of Irish folk in Manchester, some living here and plenty more having travelled over for this fight. But the challenger isn't without support, with two kids who can't be more than six or seven years old chanting 'Bil-ly-Joe' repeatedly. And I mean repeatedly.
Here's some pictures from Twitter, taken at yesterday's weight-in.
Smith has now beaten Kelly, whose corner threw in the towel as their man's legs had finally gone during the seventh round. Smith remains WBO Junior Middleweight champion of the world.
Here's a line taken from our comprehensive preview of the fight, written by Leonard Gunning: "Fights between two counter-punching southpaws are notoriously negative affairs with long Mexican stand-offs and the awkwardness of a first date, but with so much pride and glory at stake the mesh of styles between Lee-Saunders could have just the right mix of ingredients to be a real Christmas cracker."
Here's Andy's last tweet before taking to the ring, posted after yesterday's weigh-in.
I appreciate everyone who've sent messages wishes me good luck, thank you all. I am ready and will be victorious tomorrow night.
— Andy Lee (@AndyLeeBoxing) December 18, 2015
The arena is almost full now as fight fans take their seats for the main event. Meanwhile, Liverpool's Liam 'Beefy' Smith is in control of his title defence against Manchester's Jimmy Kelly on a packed undercard.
Hello and welcome to our live blog on Andy Lee's first official defence of his WBO World Middleweight title, brought to you live from ringside at the Manchester Arena.