Shock result as Vera hands Lee first defeat22/03/2008 - 10:11:43
Limerick's Andy Lee suffered his first defeat as a professional boxer in the early hours of this morning as Brian Vera shocked him into a seventh round stoppage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The tough Texan, who featured in the boxing reality TV show 'The Contender' last year, lured Lee into a brawl and the Irishman paid the price by losing his unblemished record.
Referee Tony Chiarantano stepped in to stop the fight at 2 minutes, 17 seconds in the seventh round, although a weary and bloodied Lee was still punching back.
It was the 23-year-old middleweight's first loss in 16 pro bouts and will perhaps provide a reality check to the fighter himself and his trainer Emanuel Steward, who has been very vocal about his prospect winning a world title by the end of this year.
When the fight was stopped, the official scorecards had Lee ahead by 58-55, 59-54 and 58-55 and this upset should just be a blip as the former Olympian has too much talent, power and ring skills not to bounce back.
However, this was an ill-timed TKO loss on Lee's part as he was headlining his first nationally televised fight card Stateside.
He dominated the first four rounds and had Vera floored in the first, but as the fight wore on, the 26-year-old American managed to tear up the script.
A lovely left hand from Lee had Vera on the canvas in the final minute of the opening round, as the Texan initially struggled to cope with Lee's southpaw style.
The battle-hardened Vera managed to rally and keep himself in the fight with some powerful shots. But Lee's right jab and hook kept him in the ascendancy.
He clocked Vera with a neat straight left in the third and landed a flurry of shots in the fourth as it seemed the American was on the verge of bowing out.
However, Vera struck back with a barrage of his own and one punch saw Lee cut above his right eye. The Irishman was also hit with a strong straight left hand in the closing moments of the fourth.
Vera turned the fight further in his favour in the fifth as he hounded Lee onto the ropes and tried to worsen his eye wound.
It turned into an all-out scrap in the sixth round with both fighters landing some shuddering blows.
Vera's face became bloodied as the Irishman landed a succession of blows but Lee was beginning to look tired.
He would not last much longer as despite a brave effort in the seventh, a crunching right hand to the face from Vera forced the stoppage, a premature one from the crowd's point of view but Lee was clearly struggling and had lost the power in his shots.
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