Lucian Bute v. Jeff Lacy on the 31st of May on HBO PPV?

By John Alutus: Before announcing his retirement after a tenth round stoppage loss on Friday night in Montreal, former middleweight champion William Joppy praised his much younger opponent and predicted good things for him in the future. He also compared him with Jermain Taylor, with whom he went twelve rounds with, three years earlier. They were about equal, Bute and Taylor, and Taylor v. Bute would be a good fight, he thought. Matchmaker Don Majeski, however, considered it too early for Bute to be linked with such big fights this year. He would need to acquire more experience and to develop more to be ready for the truly big fights, whilst keeping his belt and capitalising from it in the meantime. The big fights would follow in 2009, he thought.

For his part, IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute managed to showcase his skills well against a faded but brave and hard-chinned 37-year old Joppy in his first defence of his title, at the weekend. However, he was criticised for picking an out-matched opponent. For his next fight, he needs to step up again and prove his worth once more against more dangerous and difficult opposition. Preferably Bute's next opponent would be another, but much better, well known American. Unless he beats well-known, highly rated Americans, he is unlikely to impress the average American boxing fan or to convince them he is not over-hyped himself. And without impressing the American fans, he is unlikely to attract the likes of Taylor or Pavlik, for example, whether he is good enough to beat them or not.

One such possible next opponent for Bute would be the brave 30-year old former IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy, who is expected to fight on the Shane Mosley v. Zab Judah undercard on the 31st of May on HBO PPV. Lacy struggled to impress against an improved Peter Manfredo Jr last December, leading many analysts to believe his best days were truly behind him, and that he would no longer be a match for a fighter of Lucian Bute's ability. Jeff Lacy's American followers, however, disagree, many predicting Lacy would stop Bute with a trade-mark left hook. At least, Golden Boy Promotions owned "The Ring Magazine" still rank Jeff Lacy amongst the best four fighters at 168, one place behind Lucian Bute. What unites all boxing fans, however, is their interest in this fight. Does Lacy still have it? Is Bute really good enough to beat him or is he just hyped? Lacy v. Bute would prove both fighters' worth, in the USA as well as in the rest of the world, so why not have a showdown while both are still in their prime?

Will Golden Boy Promotions show enough faith in Lacy to pit him against Bute for the IBF title? Will HBO find the level of risk of Lacy losing acceptable? Lacy's high rating with the American boxing establishment would suggest so! Still, ratings and reality are often very different things. GBP and HBO might much rather match Jeff Lacy against a lesser opponent to raise his stock, before cashing in on him. We shall find out soon enough.

Article posted on 04.03.2008

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