Echos Of Tyson: Lacey-Williams

06.03.05 - By Wray Edwards: It’s sometimes difficult to make the transition from speaking with such a polite, young man in the person of Jeff Lacey, to seeing him wage war in the ring; and that’s just from the point of view as an observer. Imagine what it must be like for the guy who’s doing it. Though not as young as Tyson when he began his sudden rise to ferrous fame, Jeff “Left Hook” Lacey is looking more and more like the bunched-up ball of fury we all came to know as “Iron Mike”..

It is quite eerie, having spoken with them both, to see the parallels (in and out of the ring, Mike can be really personable at times) and feel the temptation to think maybe Jeff might just deliver what has, to this day, not been seen since Tyson’s last glories. Namely, a boxer with sudden, unstoppable, devastating power who hits so hard and so often that it’s all over once he decides it should be. The courteous and gentle man we spoke with before and after his contest with Omar Sheika, had returned to Mandalay Bay to face his own Williams with intentions to have a better outcome than when Tyson faced another boxer named Williams.


Referee Tony Weeks called Lacey to the center of the ring (just as he had done when Jeff faced Omar in December) to get finals and touch up with twenty-eight year old Rubin Williams. The two boxers faced each other eye-to-eye with Jeff looking up to his taller opponent (remind you of anybody?). ROUND ONE was fairly even with both boxers trying to settle in. Here we find one present difference between Tyson and Lacey. Jeff takes three or four frames to warm to his task; and warm he does. Jeff likes his IBF SMW belt and certainly thinks of it as only the first in his collection. At one point Rubin actually staggered Jeff, but he quickly recovered.

ROUND TWO ended with a foreshadowing of what was to become the primary factor in the fight. A pattern began to develop. Williams would stay in the middle of the ring for a bit and sting Lacey repeatedly with his left jab in ones and twos. Then, when Jeff had had quite enough of that, he would bulldoze Rubin against the ropes or into a corner and press his forehead against that of Williams and they would both commence to rip and tear with upper-cuts, hooks and counters.

At a ratio of about two to one Lacey would win these close encounters, while occasionally having to demonstrate his considerable chin as Rubin would counter. Back in the center of the ring, Williams was able to just about reverse the connect ratio, having a noticeable advantage outside. He should have stayed there for better scoring opportunities. For some reason he lacked the ability or inclination to dance around Mike, uh, I mean Jeff. Rubin would allow Lacey to cut him off and plow him into a corner or against the ropes. He even seemed to go there on his own at times.

ROUND THREE featured a couple of prolonged, action-packed corner brawls. Between rounds Williams seemed to have an attitude that he was just in there to do his best, but not expecting much. It was a sort of workman-like attitude lacking in passion and desire, almost matter-of-fact.

ROUND FOUR SAW Williams stay in the center of the ring more and clearly win the round by cracking Jeff pretty hard with combos and driving him back. One interesting effect was when Rubin would connect with very clean rights he would immediately recover the fist and cock it high and ready for another pop. It reminded one of when a slugger gets a clean hit from the sweet spot on the bat and all of the momentum of the bat is transferred to the ball, the bat comes back, light and easy, rather than carrying on around. Williams was dropping two and three of those at a time on Jeff’s noggin.

ROUNDS FIVE and SIX were more of Williams on the ropes and in the corners. It appeared that Jeff had way better legs and slightly quicker foot-work than Ruben. One kept wondering why Williams was not lighter on his feet. He certainly had flurry strength and accuracy outside, but did not seem to have the mobility or will to stay there. Round Six ended as Williams received an ominous thrashing in the corner.

ROUND SEVEN was short and brutal. Lacey came to the center of the ring like a calm matador with purpose and certainty written on his determined face. He waited a couple of beats as Rubin took a couple of steps forward. Then, in a rush, he pushed Williams to the ropes and began to terminate him as Weeks implored Rubin to “Fight back!” William’s impression of a life-sized bobble-head doll did not amuse Tony and he stepped between the fighters to prevent tragedy.

Though throwing a bit wider than Tyson did in his flurries, Jeff demonstrated every bit as much relentless power and disarming energy. Rubin’s gloves and arms were so violently struck by some blows, that they were knocked so completely out of guard position that following bombs easily found their targets. This went on for about thirty to forty seconds and was impressive and scary at the same time. Prior to the stunning conclusion of the fight Williams showed considerable boxing skills, and deserves great respect for his effort.

For about ten minutes Lacey showed the complete agony of victory, his face twisted by conflicting emotions and motivations. As the testosterone and adrenaline coursed through his blood, he celebrated with others and yelled out “Joe…I’m comin’ to get you baby!” and “I wanna unify them belts”. Vulnerable to the jab and other punches throughout the fight, Jeff was rocked and disoriented on several occasions, but recovered immediately and pressed on.

Rubin Williams sat in his corner with that thousand-yard stare we often see on defeated faces. While he did lose, “Mr. Hollywood” certainly proved himself to be at least a journeyman, and a top one at that, considering his foe this night. He showed that Jeff can be gotten to, and delivered a warning to him that perhaps serious work on defense is in order.

Mr. Warren and Mr. Calzaghe have been called out, and one wonders if Warren’s nepotistic attitudes will allow Jeff and Joe to have a go. It seems reasonable for number one and number two to settle things, but there is so much more to contracting a fight than sports performance facts. While Kessler and Beyer might be appropriate to Lacey’s unification dreams, Calzaghe certainly represents the best international and competitive option.

It is worth mentioning once more, how personable and adroit Jeff is in person. He is well-spoken, friendly, and is one example of this writer’s ideal when it comes to sports figures and high-profile champions. Comparison with Tyson’s boxing potentials in no way alludes to or includes Tyson’s occasional lack of social skills or personal discipline problems. We are all in for some really impressive experiences if Jeff Lacy continues his career with such motivation. He seemed much improved since his bout with Omar. Go for it Jeff.

Author’s note: Thought it prudent to avoid the five A.M. frazzles for this one. Better late than never.

Article posted on 06.03.2005

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