THREE years after Limerick middleweight Andy Lee suffered his only professional loss, he exacted revenge against Brian Vera in Atlantic City in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Lee outboxed and outpunched Vera in a dominant 10-round decision victory. And he now has his sights set on a title fight against middleweight champion Sergio Martinez who beat Darren Barker in the main fight on Sunday.
“The importance of this win was immeasurable,” Lee said afterwards. “It had been years coming. If not for tonight, I would’ve been haunted forever.”
In the second round, it was that right-left combination of Lee’s that dropped Vera to his rear end. But Lee also mixed in some superb right uppercuts - including one that rocked Vera in the third round.
Lee opened a cut over Vera’s left eye in the fourth round on an accidental head-butt. Vera clearly was bothered by the blood, which he continually wiped away from his eye.
Lee won 99-90, 99-90 and 98-91 on the scorecards, but the margin could have been greater. Referee Steve Smoger seemed to miss a knockdown in the sixth round when Lee landed a right hand and Vera fell forward.
“I was trying to hit him and pull out so I wasn’t exposed,” said Lee, the Castleconnell man who now lives in Detroit. “I was trying to knock him out, but it’s hard with him.. He’s not a counterpuncher, so I had to keep the pressure on.”
“I was trying to get him with a big punch, but he was gone,” Vera said. “At the beginning of the fight, I tried to take my time, which I should not have done. It gave him too much confidence.”
Lee is hoping for a title shot against the winner of the main event or any other top 160-pounder.
“I’ll fight anyone, but no middleweight wants to fight me,” he said.