Sharkie's Machine: Jermain Taylor Beats Former Teammate, Jeff Lacy
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Nov 16, 2008) Photo © Will Hart, HBO  
Former Middleweight Champion, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor (28-2-1, 17KO’s) took on his former Olympic teammate Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy (24-2, 17 KO’s) in a WBC title eliminator bout Saturday night in Nashville Tennessee, winning a Unanimous Decision by scores of 118-110 and 119-109 twice.

During a press conference that preceded the fight, both fighters cracked up laughing after trying to feign disdain for each other. They are friends that know each other pretty well, have sparred many times and were even roommates
in the Olympics. No bad blood there. How do you go into the ring and try to knockout your old buddy? Well, it’s strictly business, nothing personal. Besides, this has to be the best payday Lacy could muster at this point in his career, where after his brutal loss at the hands of Joe Calzaghe almost two years ago, his marketability has dipped considerably.

Since his big loss to Joe Calzaghe in 2006, Lacy has kept busy enough, racking up Decision wins over Vitali Tsypko (19-1), Peter Manfredo Jr. (28-4) and Epifano Mendoza (28-5). Like Lacy, Taylor lost some of his shine after being KO’d by now Middleweight titlist Kelly Pavlik back in September of 2007 and then losing a rematch by Unanimous Decision some five months later. This match would prove a defining moment for both fighters. One would move up, the other would lose yet more prestige. Both fighters needed this win bad. In the end, it turned out much the way many predicted it would, with Taylor beating Lacy to the punch all night and winning by a big score.

Against Lacy, Taylor showed the better boxing skills, footwork, accuracy and the faster hands. Taylor used his jab well to effectively set up his combinations. Lacy had the power but was not able to land it enough to win more than one round; the fifth, where Lacy put Taylor down with an awkward wide right to the back of Taylor ’s head that wobbled him to the canvas. The referee, Lawrence Cole, ruled it a slip. As a result, the ringside Judges weren’t allowed to call it a 10-8 round for Lacy. Upon review, it was clearly a punch that preceded Taylor ’s trip to the canvas. After the fight, Taylor said that he slipped and maybe he did but that slip was facilitated by a Lacy punch.

After the so called “slip” Taylor fought like a man who had been knocked down. Immediately after getting up, Taylor held and was backing up until he regained stability in his legs. Lacy’s confidence rose and he knew he could knock Taylor out—if he could just catch him. For a guy called “Left Hook” Lacy, I didn’t see many left hooks from him in this fight. It was Lacy’s right hand that proved his best weapon. Lacy was unable to land another big bomb, as Taylor’s hit and hold strategy neutralized Lacy’s options throughout the remaining rounds. There was a lot of holding in this fight, which dimmed the intensity in the ring. In the last couple of rounds, Lacy chased Taylor in desperation but was ineffective, as Taylor managed to land the more telling blows, while Lacy absorbed the most shots.

Arguments can be made that Lacy won both the fifth and sixth, as he seemed to outwork Taylor in the sixth but I had Lacy winning only the one round, the fifth, where he clearly hurt Taylor . The rest were all Taylor rounds, rendering this another blowout loss for Jeff Lacy. In my view, Lacy’s muscular frame is more suited for weight lifting than boxing and as such, he was slower and easier to counter for the leaner Taylor with the faster reflexes. Though I expected Lacy to lose badly, he actually gave a gritty performance, never gave up and kept trying to win until the final bell.

Though there was talk about a possible showdown with Calzaghe in Taylor’s future, when asked about it by HBO’s Larry Merchant, Taylor gave the standard answer of, “it depends on what my promoter wants, I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me, etc. etc.” I doubt Taylor is ready for Joe Calzaghe, who is one of the best conditioned fighters in boxing. Joe throws far more punches than anyone in the Light Heavy Weight division and has an impressive way of imposing his will on the tempo of a match. Calzaghe may even decide to retire undefeated after his brutal beating of Roy Jones Jr. last weekend.

Taylor would be wise to stay at 168 with the intent of going after one of the other titlists in his new division like, IBF titlist Lucian Bute or the WBO titlist Denis Inkin. I’ve not seen Inkin fight but I think Taylor would do well against Bute , who while being a pretty good mobile boxer, has stamina issues that Jermain could capitalize on in the late rounds. Taylor has pretty good stamina and improved boxing skills. That would be a good fight.

As for Lacy, he really needs to work on developing some defensive skills because the way he blocks with his face is no way to win against even half way decent opponents. He’s not very fast either but he could work to improve on that too. In this fight, Lacy showed more discipline than I’ve seen from him before and that is a good sign that maybe he can still improve his overall technique. At 31, he’s not too old, but he’s getting close. He made his bones fighting soft, B level fighters and maybe that’s where he’ll have his most entertaining match ups in the future. His show of heart against Taylor won my respect and I wish him well.

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