By James Slater – The word is (according to ESPN.com and other sources) Irish middleweight Andy Lee will get the opportunity to avenge his only pro defeat next February, as he will fight Bryan Vera in a return match, on ESPN2 on the 4th of the month. The Emanuel Steward-trained hope next boxes against a TBA on the upcoming Dec. 11th Wladimir Klitschko-Derek Chisora clash in Germany, and if he comes through that bout okay he will face Vera next – Vera the man who was all set to face Kelly Pavlik back on Nov. 13th (only to see the fight fall through at the last minute, due to a Pavlik injury.).
It seems now, that the gutsy Vera, a former participant on “The Contender” reality show, will get himself a decent payday after all; which will be some consolation to him after all the work he’d put in in the gym for the aborted Pavlik clash. But can Vera repeat his upset win over Lee?
Back in March of 2008, Vera overcame a rough start, to come back and hammer out a 7th-round TKO win in an exciting rumble. Back then, Vera also overcame the Irishman’s southpaw stance, youth (although Lee is only two years the younger man) and aggression as he scored the biggest win of his pro career. Since then, though, Vera has had a somewhat bumpy ride. He lost three straight after the big win (included in these three defeats was a hard stoppage loss to the rampaging James Kirkland), and has scored just one win since March of 2008 – albeit a very impressive stoppage win over Sebastian Demers in Canada.
As for Lee, he has kept a clean sheet since the TKO setback, winning nine in a row, six inside the distance. On recent form, then, most would pick Lee, 24-1(18) to get his revenge. But, has Vera simply got Lee’s number? As sometimes happens in this sport, one guy has the beating of another fighter each and every time out and prove he is the other guy’s “bogeyman.” Lee will of course be hoping this is not the case here.
The first fight was fought at 160-pounds, but both guys have fought at a higher weight since, and maybe the return will go ahead at super-middleweight. Both men can punch and both have an exciting style. Lee is undoubtedly the fresher of the two, but Vera is far from a finished fighter – even though he did lose his last fight; by UD to Maksym Bursak in Ukraine (a wide decision Vera questions).
Vera will believe he can pull it off a second time, and maybe he will set Lee back again. Certainly the older man has been in with the superior opposition and he has a large edge in experience as a result. Maybe Vera is also a tougher man than Lee, both mentally and physically. The jury is still out on how good Lee is and how good he can be, as he has not yet beaten a top-ranked fighter. This won’t change even if he does get revenge early next year, but a win over Vera, 17-5(11) would definitely be Lee’s most important win to date.
Either way, whoever wins, I think we will see another fan-friendly fight in February, in a fight that does not go the distance. Both men will be hugely motivated, surely, and this will bring out the best in them. You could probably call this fight a 60-40 affair, with the slight edge going to Lee. But will he suffer flashbacks in the rematch? Both men need to win this one!