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Andy Lee vs. Vera This Friday On ESPN

Andy LeeBy Dan Ambrose: Undefeated middleweight prospect Andy Lee (15-0, 12 KOs) will be taking on his most important bout of his early career this Friday when he steps it up a level to fight super middleweight Brian Vera (15-1, 9 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino, in Uncasville, Connecticut. The bout will be aired live on ESPN, giving Lee, 23, a huge nationwide U.S. audience that will be tuning in to check out the young middleweight prospect. If one were to believe the words of his trainer Emanuel Steward, Lee is a can’t miss future champion in the next 12 months time.

However, at this point it’s still only conjecture because Lee has faced only limited competition thus far and it’s difficult to imagine how well he’ll do when he finally steps it up to the 1st tier fighters. Lee, a 6’2” slender southpaw with blinding speed and excellent power, certainly appears to have the talent to make the leap based on what I and many others have seen of him. He already spars regularly with IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who towers over Lee at 6’6 244 lbs, yet Lee reportedly is quite competitive in their sparring sessions.

Lee’s opponent this Friday night, Brian Vera, 26, a former star from “The Contender” season three reality television program on ESPN, has only one loss on his record, a 2nd round KO to the hard-hitting Jaidon Codrington which occurred last year as part of “The Contender” series. Because of many of the fights only being of limited rounds (in this case, five rounds), the fighters frequently have to abandon their more technical, strategic type fighting styles and in order to fight as hard as they can due to the limited amount of rounds. For this reason, Vera, perhaps, pushed himself a little too much in the early going and went directly at Codrington rather than attempting to box him and take him deeper into the fight. I essentially dismiss this loss on Vera’s record because of that reason.

However, it will be interesting to see how well he does against Lee, who makes it a point to put a lot of pressure on his opponents from the very start of his fights. Lee rarely changes his tempo as he brings it from the opening, throwing withering straight lefts and hard rights at his opponents. Thus far, few have gotten past the fourth round in order to test Lee’s endurance and chin. To be sure, Lee’s defense is less than it should be, as he has a bad tendency of keeping his right hand held low below his waist, which causes him to get hit with a lot of unnecessary shots from his opponents.

Against Jason McKay, an Irish fighter with average skills, he was able to hit Lee repeatedly with right hands in their bout in December 2007, and swelled up Lee’s face in the process. While McKay eventually was stopped in the 6th round, he made Lee look rather vulnerable to say the least. This can be problem for Lee since he is being considered to be a opponent for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in the near future. Indeed, if Lee doesn’t learn to protect himself better by then, Pavlik will most likely make easy work of him in short order.

Ideally, Lee should fight several more times before he takes on a fighter in the class of Pavlik, giving him time to work against better fighters before taking on an opponent as tough as Pavlik. It seems as if Lee’s trainer, Emanuel Steward, is taking a big gamble by throwing him in against Pavlik at this early stage in Lee’s career. It may off, who knows? More likely, though, Lee will suffer a loss and take a tremendous beating in the process.

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