Calzaghe destroys Lacy
By Frank Gonzalez Jr. (March 6, 2006)
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Saturday night at the MEN Arena in Manchester England, adventuring American IBF Super Middleweight Champion, Jeff Lacy (20-1-1NC-17 KO’s) had crossed the pond to face the best opposition of his career in unbeaten, WBO Champion, Joe Calzaghe (41-0, 31 KO’s).

Careful management, relatively soft opposition, friendly referees and the gushing adoration of the folks at Showtime have propelled Jeff Lacy to stardom. In his climb over the fairly weak Super Middleweight division here in the States, Lacy has demonstrated good power, but power alone does not win fights. It has been obvious for some time that Lacy lacks the technical boxing skills to go with his power, tenacity and promotional influence.

To date, Lacy has been the beneficiary of safe match making. In his real ‘coming out’ party as a top rated fighter, Lacy was systematically taken apart, round after round by Joe Calzaghe, who had the faster hands and the overall superior boxing skills. Though Lacy didn’t win a single round, (or even have a competitive round) he showed big heart and a hell of a chin. The reality is, none of the opponents on Lacy’s resume ever prepared him for the likes of Joe Calzaghe, who may be under appreciated in some parts but has very adaptable boxing prowess that was on display to all boxing fans Saturday night.

The Fight:

Calzaghe started fast, popping his jab and following with upper cuts that were finding the mark. Lacy threw big bombs but missed; only landing a few grazing shots. Calzaghe’s mobility and accurate punching immediately established the tone. As Lacy walked to his corner after the bell, it was clear that he didn’t possess the boxing skills to deal with the unbeaten Welshman.

By the second round, Calzaghe was firmly in control. Lacy’s nose was bleeding, compliments of Calzaghe’s combination attacks. Early in the fourth, Lacy’s left eye was cut from a combination of right, left punches on target. By the end of that round, Lacy was bleeding from both eyes. Whenever Lacy rallied, Joe clinched and forced a reset or turned matador, slipped aside, then peppered Lacy with counter shots from all angles, always mindful to land something to the body. Lacy was perplexed and taking a shellacking.

This went on, round after round, with Calzaghe always discovering new ways to attack Lacy’s body, head and chest and mind. Calzaghe’s ability to defend against the power of Lacy looked like child’s play. Joe toyed with Lacy late in the fight, dropping his guard, inviting Jeff in to get walloped some more. Joe’s superior ring generalship had to be sapping Lacy’s confidence. Fact is, this fight a total mismatch.

As the fight went into the Championship rounds, the American referee, Raul Caiz Jr. (who kept tapping Lacy in solidarity after rounds ended), was looking for ways to help Lacy and without any noticeable prior warnings; he took a point from Calzaghe. The crowd booed that biased action. I didn’t know what the deduction was even for until later, finding out it was for holding, even though Lacy did more holding in that round and even landed a few low blows. Calzaghe didn’t even blink. No friendly ref could help Lacy out of the hole he was in. Calzaghe popped Jeff some more as the bell ended that round.

In the 12th round, Lacy took a pummeling and was downed by a combination of a Calzaghe punches, fatigue and being off balance. The ref reluctantly counted. Lacy got up and showed the ability to take a beating like a man. Though Calzaghe tried, he couldn’t knock Lacy out. The Judges scores were Scores were 119-105, 119-107, 119-107, all for Calzaghe. Sharkie’s Machine had it 119-107.

Afterwards, with his face swollen up like a Halloween pumpkin, Lacy was humble during the post fight interview, with a slur in his speech, he credited Calzaghe for having a great night and said he hoped to do it again someday. Lacy said, this loss would make him a better fighter. I agree, since there’s no teacher like experience.

Calzaghe was also gracious. He complimented Lacy for being a powerful fighter and was mindful not to brag about how thoroughly he dominated the American in a 12 round shutout.

I salute both guys for not engaging in unnecessary trash talking so commonplace in the run-up to big fights. Though Lacy lost badly, I actually have more respect for him now than I did previously. He truly was over-rated and made his bones against aging and lesser fighters but now that he has this experience behind him, it should make him a better fighter. Fighting too many easy fights can give a false sense of ability. Lacy has finally faced the best and now he can review the tapes and see the areas he needs to improve, like better use of the jab, timing, improving his footwork and keeping his punches straighter.

If Lacy improves his technical skills, he is still young enough and strong enough to mature into a great fighter some day. After a good rest, some reflection and refinements, Lacy might consider trying to get a fight with one of the other two remaining Champions at 168, Mikkel Kessler or Marcus Beyer, whichever is available. If he were to win, he would have something to bring to the table for a potential rematch with Calzaghe. But he better not wait too long as Calzaghe won’t be around forever waiting for Lacy to get his redemption.

Congratulations to Joe Calzaghe, who looked unblemished and fresh enough to go another five rounds after putting on a clinic that demonstrated how skillful boxers artfully nullify the assets of a big, power puncher to render him inept. Calzaghe would do well to quickly arrange fights against WBA Champ, Mikkel Kessler and WBC Champ, Marcus Beyer to consolidate the titles at 168 and take his rightful place in boxing history before moving up to Light Heavyweight or riding off into the sunset.

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