ANALYSIS: How Andy Lee can successfully defend his WBO middleweight title against Peter Quillin
The thoughts of the oddsmakers reflect the toughness of the task that faces Andy Lee as he puts his WBO middleweight belt on the line against the undefeated Peter Quillin on Saturday night.
Most bookies give Lee ( 34-2, 24 KO) a 2/1 chance against Quillin when the pair finally clash in New York and Quillin's performances thus far in a 10-year fight career show that he's more than capable of dethroning the Limerick fighter.
We have taken a look at the tape and have highlighted the various tactics that can be employed by Lee if he is to defy the odds and bring his WBO strap back to Ireland come Sunday morning.
Find the balance early
The potential success of Andy Lee on Saturday night comes down to a fine tightrope walk between aggression and caution.
If Lee comes out too timid he will be dominated by the bigger, stronger man in Quillin yet if he's too wild, he will leave his chin open to one of those giant right hands possessed by Kid Chocolate.
The key for Andy will be to stay active in the early rounds but refrain from putting too much effort into looking for that knockout punch because that will only increase the likelihood of Quillin finding a home for a devastating haymaker.
The perfect template to follow, and a tactic we're sure that trainer Adam Booth will have in place, is Lee's early gameplan against Anthony Fitzgerald from 2013.
Lee moved beautifully and stuck behind his jab so that he was still scoring yet not falling into the trap of brawling with his opponent.
Quillin likes to start early and will look to come out firing in an attempt to reclaim the title that he vacated in the Autumn.
The Chicago-born fighter made his name on early knockouts and while the string of first and second round stoppages may have slowed since his step-up in competition, his ultra-pugnacious style is a perilous prospect for anyone in the middleweight division.
Use southpaw stance to frustrate Quillin
Frustration is the name of the game for Lee and his ability to stifle the finish-seeking gameplan of Quillin will be paramount if he is to push his winning stream to seven straight.
Luckily for Lee, his opponent is prone to getting exasperated when the fight isn't going his way and the southpaw stance of the Limerick fighter is conducive to frustrating Quillin into throwing wildly.
Any honest orthodox fighter would admit that southpaws are tricky to deal with, even after going through a fight camp sparring against left-handed fighters.
The same shots are simply not open when a fighter's shoulders and hips are placed in a position to which an opponent might not be as accustomed.
En route to a KO victory over hard-hitting John Jackson, Lee displayed the difficulty that he brings to orthodox fighters as he avoided the majority of Jackson's significant strikes before countering beautifully all night long.
Quillin has faced southpaws in the past and his undefeated record shows that, regardless of stance, the American has been unstoppable thus far but it could be argued that he's recently struggled more against southpaws in the exchanges.
One fight in particular that jumps out is the 2012 bout against Winky Wright when he was caught unaware at times, something that Lee will be well aware of.
Don't deviate from the gameplan
If the above tack is the one in place by Lee and brilliant tactician Adam Booth then it is vital for the former St Francis fighter to stick to it throughout.
Quillin will be more than happy for this contest to descend into a brawl that is dictated simply by who hits the hardest and, if that is to happen, it plays right into the Cuban-American's hands.
Lee is undoubtedly the more technical fighter and has more than enough killer instinct to finish the fight but he can't leave the result down to the most basic contest in which both men throw hooks to see who falls first.
In the Jackson fight, Lee found himself suckered into reckless exchanges early on that resulted in a nasty right hook that dropped the Irishman.
Quillin, meanwhile, flourishes in such exchanges and would give his terribly dangerous right arm for a chance to wing looping shots at Lee's jaw.
Against Fernando Guerrero, Quillin's performance looked more similar to a street fight than a boxing encounter and that ended up very much in the favour of the undefeated fighter as he dropped his opponent four times on his way to a TKO victory.
If he is to retain his belt Lee may have to be content with a comeback win but, fortunately for the Emanuel Steward product, he has made a habit of turning fights around.
Lee was likely behind on the judges' scorecards in each of his previous three outings before going on to get his hand raised and Saturday evening's New York clash may well play out in similar fashion.
At 30 years of age, Lee has a number of years left in him at the top level and he may well need to settle for being one of those gritty fighters who needs the pressure of some difficult early rounds to wake him up in the latter stages of the fight.
While his finishing blows against Jackson and Matty Korobov could be seen by Lee critics as lucky shots, I believe that they are proof of the Irishman's ability to be patient and wait for the opening to present itself before firing the deciding punch.
The WBO middleweight championship decider between Korobov and Lee looked to be under the Russian's control after Korobov rebounded from getting his bell rung by a Lee left hook in the third round.
But Lee made sure that he'd be leaving Vegas with the belt after he landed a picture-perfect right hook to force the beginning of the end.
It might take a similar comeback victory over Quillin and Lee will have to prove that he has the stronger chin if he is to power through the trying early onslaught.
If he can resist the temptation to force the finish, Lee will likely have the fuller gas tank as the latter rounds approach.
Invest in body shots
If Lee is to drag this fight into deep waters in the hope of stealing the later rounds due to a tired Quillin, he would be well served to punish the body of Kid Chocolate early on.
It might not be wise to try to fight his way to the inside because we all know how dangerous Quillin is at close quarters (although he might not be the most technically sound) but investing in pitty-pat shots to the body from the outside will pay dividends in the second half of the fight.
In spite of the victory over Gabriel Rosado, one criticism that could be offered against Quillin is that he looked tired in the middle rounds and that undoubtedly came as a result of the few but effective body shots from Rosado.
Quillin was streaks ahead of Rosado early on but the Philadelphia fighter was able to claw his way back into contention with the little body punches playing a significant part.
As is the case with southpaw fighters like Lee, the power shot to the liver is a massive advantage to his stance.
While it could be argued that orthodox fighters have the advantage with liver shots because the organ is closer to their punch, I would have to disagree because an orthodox fighter can merely throw the lead hand to the liver which carries much less force than the power hand.
For southpaw fighters like Lee, throwing a heavy hook to the body using the power hand will inevitably land to the liver which can often be one of the most damaging blows in any bout.
Put Quillin on the back foot
Counter-punching is not the strong suit of Peter Quillin. That's a fact so Lee could do a lot worse than make the American move backwards as much as possible.
If Quillin can get forward momentum going, his tornado of punches will have more power to them than if Lee pushes him on to his back foot for the duration of the fight.
This is not to contradict the earlier arguments for Lee caution because he can move forward without winging punches.
Footwork will be key to cutting off the ring for Quillin and staying on the outside, two aspects of boxing that seldom go hand-in-hand.
If Lee moves forward with a disciplined guard, like he did against Craig McEwan then he will negate any strengths of Quillin's offence.
Quillin thrives off power punches and getting his opponent off balance so the battle for the centre of the ring is paramount come Saturday night.
Rosado put Quillin on the back foot and, at stages, Lee's upcoming opponent looked terribly clumsy which is not a trait that one ought to face with a title fight on the horizon.
When Saturday night arrives, I believe Lee will be able to retain if his WBO middleweight belt if he can dictate the positioning of the fight, take advantage of some early body shots late on and avail of his southpaw stance to make Quillin reckless.