By Keith Idec
Promoter Lou DiBella applauded Andy Lee and his handlers because they were adamant about landing a rematch against Brian Vera for Lee’s next fight.
“They made me make this fight,” DiBella said on a conference call. “Believe me, I promote both gentlemen and there could’ve been other fights that were lucrative for both Andy Lee and Brian Vera.”
Lee (26-1, 19 KOs) will try to avenge his only professional defeat Oct. 1 in Atlantic City, where he’ll square off against Vera (19-5, 12 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight rematch. The fight will be broadcast by HBO as the co-feature before the sport’s top middleweight, Argentina’s Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs), encounters England’s Darren Barker (23-0, 14 KOs) in a 12-round main event at Boardwalk Hall.
Vera was knocked down in the first round of their first fight and was losing on all three scorecards, but came back to stop Lee in the seventh round of a bout televised by ESPN2 from Uncasville, Conn. Lee is 11-0, including seven knockouts, since Vera defeated him in March 2008, yet feels as though this is the fight he needs to win before chasing a middleweight title shot.
“The first time around,” Lee, 27, said, “I was very young and immature. … I had experience as an amateur, but as a pro I was still very young (23). Up to that point I was blowing everybody away. I was fighting guys where I was favored to win. And then when you face a real tough fighter, like Brian Vera is, he came determined in that fight.”
Vera, 29, lost three straight fights following his upset of Lee, but he bounced back from those defeats to James Kirkland, Craig McEwan and Isaac Rodrigues. The brawler from Austin, Texas, beat former WBC 154-pound champion Sergio Mora by split decision in a 10-rounder Feb. 4 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Lee, meanwhile, stopped Scotland’s McEwan (19-1, 10 KOs) in the 10th round March 12 in Uncasville, Conn.
“The difference in this fight is I know what to expect, and I’m preparing myself physically,” Lee said. “I do strength and conditioning training every day and I’m boxing plenty of rounds. I’m getting good sparring from good fighters. Since that fight [against Vera] I’ve learned and grown so much. Last time I turned up underprepared and overconfident, and I paid the price. But this time, there will be no mistakes made.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.