Stunning TKO Loss for Andy Lee

By Paul Strauss: No luck of the Irish for Andy Lee Friday night, as he suffered what some thought was a quick stoppage in the seventh round of his fight with Brian Vera. The referee might have acted a bit quick, but even Lee's hall of frame trainer Emanuel Steward, voiced no objections. All fans had to do was look at Lee's face to see evidence of the beating he took. Comparatively, Vera's face was unmarked even though he took several straight lefts on the button..

From the start it seemed evident Andy Lee was not going to be ready for a title fight in 2008, as Emanuel Steward predicted. His weaknesses, both offensively and defensively were quickly apparent. He was definitely hittable, and did not exhibit much in the way of hand speed or combination punching.

Prior to the start of the fight, Teddy Atlas talked about Lee's good jab, but during the fight it was only occasionally evident. Most of the time, the southpaw's right jab was only a pawing imitation. Atlas attempted to explain that technique as intentional on Lee's part, kind of a decoy used to draw a lead from Vera, which could be timed and countered with his strong right hook. It never happened.

Lee did hurt Vera and had him down early, but Vera wasn't in any danger of knockout. In a pre-fight interview, Vera expressed confidence he was the stronger of the two, which proved to be the case. He was literally able to walk through Lee's straight left to land his own so-so right, which was neither straight nor sharp. However, it was sufficiently damaging to shake up Lee and eventually lead to the stoppage.

At one point when Andy Lee was obviously hurt, Teddy Atlas compared him to Tommy Hearns. He explained that Lee, as Tommy Hearns, didn't know how to fight on the inside or, more importantly, how to tie up his opponent when hurt. When Lee tired, his hands started to drop, and his head never moves much, so it was right there for Vera's right hand thud of a punch..

Vera was supposed to be exactly the right style of fighter for Andy Lee. He isn't much of a technical fighter, and is not a big puncher. Also, he had been stopped by Jaidon Codrington, so it was thought Lee would have some good target practice.

That's the way the fight started. Lee was sharp-shooting Vera with long straight lefts, but he couldn't or wouldn't follow up with the right hook. It didn't appear Vera's defensive prowess took away the hook; rather, it seemed like the countering right managed to disrupt Lee's game plan.

In the end, when the computer punch stats were shown, Lee had the edge in every category, but the biggest one, the (W) went to Vera. Now Andy Lee has to deal with his first professional defeat. It will be especially difficult, because he didn't just lose a close decision. Rather he was cut, beat up, and suffered a TKO to an average fighter (albeit with a big heart).

I am sure Emanual Steward is suffering greatly as well. Not only did he have big plans for Andy Lee's immediate future, but Manny stated Lee is one of his best friends. I can just imagine how concerned and disappointed Manny is for his protégé. Andy's disappointment has to be especially painful as well, because I'm sure he feels he let down Manny, someone who has taken such good care of him, and thinks so much of him that he took him into his own home.

Taking nothing away from Brian Vera, as he fought a great fight, it's still a disappointment for fight fans to see a likeable kid lose so dramatically. Lee has that charisma and enjoyable personality that helps the sport of boxing. But, after all is said and done, it's is only his first loss, and it wasn't like he was knocked stiff, so it's not the end of the world. The rainbow is still in sight for the Limerick Assassin if he looks hard and listens to Manny's fatherly like instructions.

The under-card was entertaining, but lacked much in the way of skill or potential. Aaron Prior, Jr. is a tall middle-weight, but looks and moves like Manute Bol. He doesn't seem like someone who will be climbing much higher in the rankings.

Now, Saturday night, who are you picking between Casamayor vs. Katsidis? Most experts predict Casamayor's experience and slickness will carry him through to a decision win. Teddy Atlas went out on a limb, and picked Katsidis. He thinks Katsidis' none stop, give no quarter, style will catch up with Casamayor's older legs. Although Casamayor can often be frustrating to watch, he is very good. More importantly, he knows all the tricks, and I think he will use any and all of them to come away with the win. After Casamayor's last disappointing fight, fans are looking for much more from him, maybe even a knockout? We'll see.

Article posted on 22.03.2008

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