Jeff Lacy On The Comeback Trail - Hatton/Mayweather Undercard

21.11.07 - By Matthew Hurley: When Jeff Lacy climbs into the ring on December 8th against Peter Manfredo on the undercard of Hatton – Mayweather he will be attempting to do more than just defeat the man in front of him – he will be trying to save his career. Despite only losing once in twenty-three professional bouts, that loss kicked off a painful downward spiral that included mental anguish and physical injuries that could very well have derailed the fighter’s career permanently. But Lacy insists that despite what he’s gone through he’s recovered in both capacities and is ready to get himself back into title contention.

The downward spiral all began on March 4th, 2006 when a heavily media hyped Lacy took on Joe Calzaghe in a super middleweight unification bout in front of a highly partisan Calzaghe crowd at the M.E.N Arena in Manchester, England. Going into the fight Lacy was perceived to be a budding superstar and was instilled as the favorite. Twelve brutally one-sided rounds later he left the ring battered and disillusioned. Lacy later admitted that training camp hadn’t gone well and that all the media attention had gotten to him before he even stepped into the ring. This, coupled with a fighter in Calzaghe who was determined to silence his own critics, led to a perfect display of boxing technique that relieved Lacy of his title. Lacy retreated to his home in Saint Petersburg, Florida to nurse his wounds and found himself wondering what had gone so terribly wrong.

“I was so emotional after that loss,” he says. “One minute everyone was praising me and the next I was yesterday’s news. I’ve since learned to understand and deal with those emotions a lot better than I did back then.”

Nine months later Lacy returned to the ring to take on Vitali Tsypko and before he could even get warmed up in the fight he tore his left rotator cuff in the second round. Lacy would go on to gut out a close, controversial majority decision victory and then once again he retreated. The injury led to surgery and a year long layoff. Despite the seriousness of the injured arm and the seemingly endless rehabilitation process the fighter is certain that this trough in his career will serve him well when he again climbs through the ropes.

“I’ve been training hard for five months now and I feel good when I throw the left hook. I signed on with Golden Boy Promotions and I’m ready to go. I feel I can do what I want to do in the ring and my fans are going to be happy.”

His opponent, Peter Manfredo, gained fame by coming up a bit short on the first Contender series. He too lost to Joe Calzaghe and finds himself on the comeback trail. He’s won two fights since that loss and has also undergone surgery on his left elbow for bone spurs. He remains, however, a good test for Lacy because no one really knows just how much Lacy has left. The injured shoulder has to be taken into account but it’s his psyche that will truly be tested. In Manfredo he won’t be facing a fearsome puncher but he will be up against a speedy boxer with a ton of guts.

Both fighters need a win but Lacy’s whole career seems to depend on it because of the heights he had once reached. Perhaps his talent was initially overblown by an enthusiastic press and fan base because of his exciting style but his fall from that perch was so sudden that it seemed to shake him to his very core. His resolve will most certainly be tested on December 8th and if he passes the test and leaves the ring unscathed he’s right back in the thick of the super middleweight picture. If he loses there might not be much of a career left to salvage.

Article posted on 21.11.2007

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