Taking A Punch
Knockout Vegas night: Houston boxer Mike Lee stays undefeated with TKO
Mike Lee took the first real hard shot of his boxing career Saturday night in Las Vegas. But it was the other guy who started wobbling and soon went tumbling down, courtesy of Lee's right-on right hand.
Lee — the Houston-based boxer who's become a burgeoning national curiosity with his finance degree from Notre Dame and unconventional fighter background — needed only two minutes and 17 seconds to dispatch of the latest man put in his way: the largely unremarkable Pablo Gomez. This is the second straight first-round knockout for Lee (following his flooring of Keith Debow in just 93 seconds at Cowboys Stadium in November) and moves him to a perfect 4-0 in his young career.
Fighting on the undercard of Brandon Rios and Miguel Acosta WBO lightweight title fight at the Palms Casino, Lee faced adversity for the first time though. It came in the wild right fist of Gomez, who caught Lee with a punch just seconds after the bell rung starting the fight.
Lee stayed steady on his feet, but he needed about 40 seconds to get back on the attack. Once he did, he sent Gomez to the canvas twice with the referee calling the fight after the second knockdown.
"He got caught with a good shot," Lee's Houston trainer Ronnie Shields said in a TV interview after the bout. "But he came back and knocked the guy out. You can't ask for more than that."
Lee's large contingent of fans (Lee devotee Wayne Newton wasn't visible this time, but a large group of guys in Team Lee T-shirts sat in one section of the arena) and Top Rank (Lee's promoter) are likely going to start asking for more soon. The 23-year-old Lee is being groomed to be a star and everyone around him knows it. Notre Dame's ultimate inspirational mascot — Rudy Ruettiger himself — has even taken to showing up at Lee's fights, landing a nice seat at the Palms.
Everyone wants to get on the Mike Lee train while the getting is good. Even if the Lee himself keeps saying, "I'm just trying to get better."
Taking a punch is one more giant-sized learning step. Ideally, Lee would not let a guy like Gomez (who is now 1-3-1 in his career) catch him off guard. But things happen in the ring. Boxing isn't sport where you can script out every punch.
"He just hit me with a right hand," Lee said in his post-bout interview. "I just had to regain my composure and I got him with my own right hand."
Not all rights are credited equal. Lee's won out. He's been working with Shields on his overhand rights and the gym sweat paid off even earlier in the bout when he sent Gomez's mouthpiece flying out and Gomez himself crashing to the canvas for the first time.
Now, Lee will return to Houston to train some more under Shields at the Savannah Boxing Club on Ashcroft. The tentative plan is that his next fight will take place in May.