Andy Lee Makes His Boxing Comeback On July 19th
By Scott Gilfoid: Irish middleweight Andy Lee (15-1, 12 KOs) makes his boxing comeback on July 19th against a still to be determined opponent in Limerick, Ireland. Lee, who turns 24 today, was shockingly stopped in the 7th round in his last fight against Brian Vera (16-1, 10 KOs), a former participant from The Contender reality television series on ESPN. Lee came into the fight a big favorite, with many boxing experts, including Lee’s trainer Emanuel Steward, hyping him and saying that he’s a future champion in the making.
In Steward’s case, he went even one step further, claiming that Lee would be a champion within the year and would defeat middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to take his title. In hindsight, Steward seemed drunk with glory, thinking way too much of Lee’s easy wins over mostly soft set-up fights which were designed for Lee to look good in. That was supposed to be the case for his fight against Vera, a 26 year-old slugger known for being a heavy pressure fighter with mostly crude skills.
On paper, this would seem like an easy fight for a fighter of Lee’s ability as he was not only the much faster puncher, but he also had a lot more power as well than Vera. Every way you could look at this fight, it seemed like the perfect match-up to make Lee look good.
What’s even better, the fight was being shown live on ESPN, giving Lee a huge amount of visibility to boxing fans around America. The problem was, however, Lee had never faced a heavy pressure fighter like Vera, nor had Lee ever had his chin tested by a big slugger – not that Vera was a tremendous puncher, mind you, but he was big enough to cause Lee all kinds of problems as turns out. Lee looked good in the opening round, knocking Vera down in the 1st round with a flurry of shots.
In the 2nd round, though, Vera stunned Lee near the end of the round with a big looping right hand that Lee seemed not to expect. Lee had no problems with Vera, for the most part, until the 6th round when Vera began pressuring Lee and landing some combinations to the head. At the same time, Lee began to look very tired, as if Vera’s attack was sapping all the energy out of him somehow. Lee landed well on his own in the round, throwing a number of scorching left hands that would have knocked out a fighter with a less study chin than Vera.
However, none of these shots had any effect on Vera, who walked through them and continued to land heavy punches to the head of Lee. By the end of the round, Lee had bad swelling under both eyes, he looked incredibly worn out, and his legs – never strong looking to begin with – resembled two wet noodles. Indeed, his legs appeared barely able to carry the weight of his upper body around the ring.
In the 7th round, Vera jumped right on Lee at the beginning of the round, tagging him with a number of hard right hands. Moments later, Lee was staggered by a big right hand from Vera.
Though Lee continued firing back with shots that would fell most fighters, Vera took it and landed several more right hands. At that point, the referee Tony Chiarantano started to move forward to stop the fight, but before he could Lee threw a scorching left hand back that snapped Vera’s head back. Ignoring the punch from Lee, the referee stopped the bout anyway, giving Vera the win. It was a bad stoppage, because Lee was still on his feet fighting back and punching with massive power. Lee’s legs were gone, that’s a given, but he was still fighting back and more tired than actually hurt.
It’s hard to say what would have happened if the fight had been allowed to have continued. Perhaps Lee would have lost anyway, but we’ll never know because the choice was taken away from Lee due to the stoppage by the referee. As bad as the loss was for Lee in terms of career movement, it did give him a wakeup call and let him know that he needs to work on handling pressure fighters like Vera. Most of Lee’s future opponents will likely try and take a page out of this fight and use the same heavy pressure style to attack Lee with, hoping to rough him up and tire him out.
It’s hard to say whether or not it can be duplicated by the average fighter, because whoever it is, they’ll have to have a good chin to take the kind of shots that Lee will throwing at them. Vera, for his part, was incredibly fortunate to have escaped the fight without being knocked out. His knockdown in the first round, for example, might have been the end of him if it had occurred earlier in the rounds rather than in the last seconds of the round.
Ideally, Lee should have pressured Vera for a rematch, because that’s the logical course for a fighter when they’re as hyped as much as Lee is. I think Lee would destroy Vera in a rematch, probably within a round or two. That’s a fight that Lee really needs to make after he deals with his comeback opponent on July 19th. Don’t expect his opponent to be very good, since Lee’s management won’t be wanting to take any big risks given his last hard fight.
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