By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Brian Vera’s confidence entering his middleweight rematch against Andy Lee isn’t based only on him winning their first fight by technical knockout.
Vera believes he has vastly improved since he stopped Lee in the seventh round 3½ years ago in Uncasville, Conn. The rugged fighter from Austin, Texas, can’t say the same thing about Lee (26-1, 19 KOs), a 6-foot-2 southpaw who has gone 11-0 and scored seven knockouts since Vera beat him.
In fact, Vera was surprised Lee agreed to fight him again Saturday night in Atlantic City.
“I don’t think it was a smart idea,” Vera said, “but you know, hey, I’m down to fight anybody. I don’t know. Maybe he just feels like he can’t sleep good at night unless he gets past me. I guess if you lost to somebody and you’re a fighter like him, who’s never lost before, I guess he just wants to get that back. All I know is I’m prepared, I’ve gotten better, I think, and he hasn’t. So we’ll see what happens.”
The 29-year-old Vera (19-5, 12 KOs) lost three consecutive fights following his upset of Lee, but he overcame those losses to James Kirkland (eighth-round TKO), Craig McEwan (10-round unanimous decision) and Isaac Rodrigues (10-round majority decision). Vera has won three of his last four fights, including a surprising split-decision victory over former WBC 154-pound champion Sergio Mora in a 10-rounder Feb. 4 in Fort Worth, Texas.
“He’s trying to box a little bit more than he used to,” Lee, 27, said, “but that’s not an improvement for him because his biggest strength is his wildness and that he’s physical. I don’t think the fight will go the same way as last time because I’m going to win and it’s going to be an easy win for me. You’ll all see.”
While he’ll try to take a slightly more tactical approach, Vera envisions their 10-round rematch unfolding more like their first fight. If so, Vera versus Lee II figures to entertain fans who tune in to watch the opening bout of an HBO doubleheader from Boardwalk Hall.
“I think it’ll be a little similar,” Vera said, “just for the fact that I’m still going to be aggressive and come at him. But we’re going to do it a little smarter, not so crazy, not so wild and not get hit as much. I think it’s still going to be an exciting fight. He comes to fight, too, so I expect him to be ready and fully prepared for war.”
When he was informed Lee discussed a victory over him moving Lee toward a shot at Sergio Martinez, Vera concluded, “I’ve foiled people’s plans before, so that’s exactly what we’re here to do.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.