Andy Lee admits he could call time on his boxing career if the right opponent does not present itself in the first half of 2017.

The former WBO champion lost his title in December of last year against Billy Joe Saunders and has not returned to the ring since.

Preliminary discussions were held with a view to fighting Jorge Sebastian Heiland, conqueror of Matthew Macklin in 2014, on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin against Daniel Jacobs on 10 December in New York.

But that bout couldn’t be made and left Lee without the platform for the major fight that he says he desires in order to return.

He told IFL TV: “It looked like I could have fought again a couple of times this year but it didn’t materialise. Those would have been big, significant fights.

“I’m a little bit disappointed about that but in another way I’m not because I needed a rest from the game.

“I’m boxing as a professional for over 10 years and especially since joining Adam Booth, it has been very intense.

“It has been a very hard regime training-wise and my fights were all very tough fights, top-end fights. I’ve consciously taken a rest from it. It looked like I could have fought 10 December.

"Initially it was just to get me out and have a fight. But I didn’t want just a run of the mill fight.

“They talked about Jorge Sebastian Heiland who is the WBC number one contender.

“I thought that would be a very good fight and I would go for that. It would have been in Madison Square Garden as part of Golovkin v Jacobs but they didn’t reach an agreement and we’re just waiting to see if the fight get set, if the date can be put on again.

“It was just preliminary, there was nothing official. But at this stage of my career, it has to be a big fight to entice me back to fight again. I have achieved everything I wanted in the game.

“I’m quite happy in my life. I love boxing, I’m still young at 32. So while I still can fight, I want to fight, but it has to be the right fight. We’ll see. I’m not just going to come back to knock over a few bums.”

Lee has already said he is open to the possibility of taking on superstar Golovkin and reiterated his desire to take on the unbeaten world champion if needs be.

“If in six months time, the right fight doesn’t come, I will have to think about it [retiring]. I have nothing left to achieve or prove to myself or anybody. It would be nice to get one more run at the title, win it back, and go out off into the sunshine.

“I’m willing to fight anybody. If Jacobs and Golovkin reach an agreement, it’s very possible I could fight Heiland.

“If they don’t, I’ll be happy to step in and fight one of them. That’s the type of fighter I’m looking at. I’d love a rematch with Billy Joe Saunders, but I don’t see it happening. But I want to fight the top guys.”

Lee was part of Eric Donovan's team as the Olympian won the second bout of his professional career at the National Stadium with a second-round stoppage. 

He said: "He asked me to wrap his hands and give him a hand. I enjoyed it. It was very nerve-wracking though, being on that side. It's a lot of responsibility and you have to make sure everything is right."