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Boxing – Is Andy Lee Still Relevant In the Middleweight Division?

Andy LeeBy Sean McDaniel: It’s disappointing how far middleweight Andy Lee’s star has faded since his 7th round stoppage loss to Brian Vera last year. In that fight, Lee had Vera hurt early in the fight but was unable to finish him off. Vera then stuck around and began to batter the tall, slender 6’2” Lee with big right hands in the 6th and 7th, wobbling Lee and puffing up his face.

With Lee’s legs completely gone and with him standing ramrod straight up and taking vicious head shots, the referee stepped in and saved Lee from taking any further punishment by stopping the bout. Before that loss, Lee’s trainer Emanuel Steward had been predicting that Lee would be a champion by the end of the year and that he would defeat Kelly Pavlik.

Instead, Lee was stopped by Vera, a tough fighter to be sure but far from a world class athlete, and has done little since that fight. Obviously, Lee has to try and fight Vera again if he wants to live down this defeat and try to redeem himself with the boxing public.

It doesn’t matter how many fighters that Lee beats, unless he beats Vera then Lee is going to continue to be thought of as a someone that can’t take heavy pressure and tough opponents. Lee looked amateurish in Vera fight, failing to clinch when Lee got repeatedly rocked by Vera.

Lee’s answer to the huge rights that he was getting hit with by Vera was to try and fire back with right hooks and left hands, but neither had any effect on the sturdy chinned Vera, who took the shots without any problems.

Lee has great power, and extraordinary boxing skills, but his stamina and his ability to absorb shots has to be thought of as suspect after the defeat to Vera. I’m sure that Lee can learn from this defeat up to a point, but I seriously doubt that Lee’s ability to take punishment will get any better in the future.

If Lee can focus exclusively on his defense as well as his ability to fight hard for 10 rounds, maybe he’ll be good enough to possibly be a contender some day. As of now, I see Lee as a skinny gatekeeper in the middleweight division.

Lee will beat some decent fighters, but as soon as he’s matched against the better middleweights like Pavlik, Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham, then Lee will most surely lose. I think there are younger fighters in the middleweight division better than Lee, fighters like Matt Karobov, Gennady Golovkin and Joe Greene to name just a few.

All three of these fighters would be more than a handful for Lee to have to deal with right now, especially Karobov who I see knocking Lee out if they were to fight. Golovkin would likely knock Lee out as well due to Golovkin’s better power and much better chin than Lee.

In his two fights since the loss to Vera, Lee has defeated Willie Gibbs and Alexander Sipos and looked unremarkable in each. Sipos was able to rock Lee on a couple of occasions in the fight and had Lee looking weary in the later rounds of the fight.

If Sipos had just a little bit more talent he could have defeated Lee in the same way that Vera did. That fight made Lee look as if he hadn’t learned a thing since the Vera defeat. It may be that this is a permanent situation for Lee with his tendency to get hurt with big shots and wear down in his fights.

It’s too bad, because Lee started out his career looking as if he might be a future champion. I can’t say that now, though.

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