Andy Lee Wins Lopsided Decision in Rematch with Vera; Martinez KOs Barker in 11th

By John G. Thompson: This evening at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey Andy Lee (27-1, 19 KO's) looked to avenge his sole loss against Brian Vera (19-6, 12 KO's). Rather than trade with Vera as in the first bout three years ago, Lee showed poise and thoroughly out boxed his opponent. The match was televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing on the undercard of the Martinez vs. Barker middleweight championship bout.

Brian Vera only won five bouts in his last ten, though in his defense Vera has not had it easy when it comes to match making. Vera's first loss, a second round knockout, came at the hands of fellow "The Contender" cast member Jaidon Codrington back in 2007. Since then Vera fought against some tough competition, winning an upset against then undefeated Andy Lee before going on a three fight losing streak to a series of then undefeated fighters (including James Kirkland, Craig McEwan, and Isaac Rogers). Vera then won via knockout against Sebastien Demers, but lost his subsequent bout to another undefeated fighter. Vera won two straight since, the highlight being a ten round split decision over a former light middleweight champion and the winner of the first season of "The Contender" Sergio Mora in February.

Andy Lee, a member of the 2004 Irish Olympic Team, now fights out of Detroit, Michigan where he is trained by the well respected Emanuel Steward. Lee won eleven straight (seven by knockout) since his seventh round stoppage loss to Vera in 2008. The first fight was highly entertaining and Lee knocked down Vera in the first round before Vera rallied back to take command of the fight.

Lee fought smart in the rematch, keeping his hands up and was cognizant about maintaining distance throughout the bout. A southpaw, Lee controlled the first round with the right jab. Vera seemed to be doing better at the start of the second, but Lee landed a multiple punch combination. Vera tried to respond but the punches either missed or were blocked by Lee. With just a couple seconds left in the second round Lee caught Vera with a straight left as he was coming in with a jab and Vera went down, prompting a count from Referee Steve Smoger. Vera got up quickly, smiling, and told his corner that Lee stepped on his foot.

Vera tried to pick up the pace in the third, but Lee landed a couple serious body shots and a good uppercut. Ringside commentator Jim Lampley summed up the action, “Uppercuts, good hooks, straight left hands – an excellent first three rounds for Andy Lee.” Lee continued to maintain distance and control the bout, all the while Vera smiling at him. In the sixth round Lee landed a great right hook as Vera came towards him, and Vera went into the ropes near a corner, his gloves touching the canvas. The referee apparently did not notice the technical knockdown, but it mattered little as Lee was climbing high on the scorecards. Lee smiled back at Vera.

Lee landed another great uppercut in the seventh and Vera came at him with his best volley of punches of the night. Most of his shots were to the body, but Lee covered up well and blocked most. Ringside commentator and crusty HBO institution Larry Merchant commented, “Lee is just breaking him down.” The unofficial ringside scorer Harold Lederman gave Vera the eighth round for landing some good punches, but I felt Lee still controlled action.

Vera kept throwing in the ninth, but there appeared to be little power left on his punches. In talking about the importance for Lee in avenging his prior loss Merchant said, “This was a demon… he had to defeat before he could go on, and he seems well on the road to doing that now.” Vera came out firing in the tenth and final round, working the body, but not really landing anything meaningful. Lee threw less, but his shots looked more effective. Regardless, this might have been one of the only rounds of the night for Vera. Lee danced away from him in the final seconds, smiling, not just in response to the way Vera had grinned at him all night, but because Lee knew he had won an important fight for his self esteem. One judge scored it 98-91, and the other two as I had it 99-90, all for Andy Lee.

In other action on the card:

Sergio Martinez KO 11 Darren Barker
J'Leon Love UD 6 Eddie Hunter
Troy Artis TKO 3 Israel Duffus
Danny Lugo UD 4 Kevin Rooney Jr
Isaac Chilemba KO 2 Jameson Bostic
Sean Monaghan TKO 4 Kentrell Claiborne
Magomed Abdusalamov TKO 1 Kevin Burnett
Steve Martinez TKO 5 Jay Krupp

Article posted on 02.10.2011

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