Andy Lee returns to the ring to face Anthony Fitzgerald in a middleweight contest at Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on 9 February.

The Belfast bout will be Lee’s first encounter since his WBC middleweight title fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in Texas, where he suffered a seventh-round stoppage.

Limerick man Lee was apparently ahead on all three judges’ cards before the stoppage and will be keen to get back to winning ways as he takes on Fitzgerald.

"I felt I needed a fresh start." - Andy Lee

Lee has recently relocated his training base to London from Detroit to be trained by Adam Booth, who previously trained former world heavyweight champion David Haye.

“It is a new start for me over here," said Lee. "I was in America for a long time. I fought for a world title but it didn’t work out so I felt I needed a fresh start. And for me to come back here and train with Adam has been a fresh start.

“If I had stayed over there I would have stayed in the same place physically and metaphorically in my career as well. When you fight for world titles and don’t succeed you have to ask yourself why you didn’t succeed and you have to evaluate things. I felt like I had gone as far as I could in Detroit and the only way forward was to change things.

“It was tough losing my friend and trainer Emanuel Steward in October. I trained with Emanuel, lived with him and was very close with him. Before he was sick I had already made my mind up to maybe try things with a new trainer. Unfortunately he was sick and passed away and that was a tough loss for me and everybody who was close to him.

“To get back to world title fights, I have to win fights; it is as simple as that. We need one or two fights and then maybe fight one of the best lads from the British scene and that will put me right back in the mix and in touch of a title. I am not a million miles away, three or four fights and I am back in contention.”

Lee is presently ranked number seven in the WBC rankings and ninth with the WBA but will be aware that the tough and durable Fitzgerald (13W-3L, 1 KO) will be no walk in the park and with Irish pride on the line it will be an entertaining fight for the Irish fight fans.

The Belfast bill is headlined by Carl Frampton’s shot at the European super bantamweight title against Kiko Martinez and also includes Belfast’s Martin Lindsay’s British and Commonwealth featherweight title challenge against Lee Selby.