Leave it to me to perform something akin to the Madden Curse.
I ranked the middleweights a couple posts down, and I went ahead and put Andy Lee seventh in the world. I believed entirely in Lee's ability, in Manny Steward's hype job, in everyone saying that this kid was the next great middleweight.
A southpaw with power. An Olympic pedigree. A great trainer, training him great.
And Brian Vera beat him in a shocking upset on Friday Night Fights, in a hell of a fight.
Go figure. If you didn't see the bout, it's worth watching on one of the late night replays, or as soon as you can find it online. The 26-year old Vera (16-1, 10 KO) was supposed to be another stepping stone for Lee (15-1, 12 KO) at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. Turned out he was ready, willing and able to take Lee to a place he'd yet to be as a pro.
I don't think this scratches out Lee's potential entirely, but it sure does show a chink in his armor. Steward had pressed him hard over the last year, with Lee fighting a pretty insane schedule for a young guy with his rep. But he'd steamrolled them all before Brian Vera.
It was an old story. The better boxer, winning the fight, allowed himself to be drawn into a brawl, where the tough Vera was able to shine against the higher skilled man. It was a mental issue more than anything else, and Brian Vera should be credited greatly for getting Andy Lee to fight his fight. It was Vera that closed the show, stunning the crowd and boxing fans across the globe.
Andy Lee will be back. Frankly, I'll still guarantee you that he has a better career than Brian Vera. But kudos to Vera for a tough, gritty, stunning upset victory. He said after the fight, in a cliche moment to top them all, that you can't measure heart. Corny as it is, it's true. Vera was able to gutcheck Lee and beat him out.