Calzaghe vs. Lacy: Is "Left Hook" Ready For Joe?

08.08.05 - By Steve McKenna: AFTER eight years as the WBO super-middleweight champion, Joe Calzaghe finally has a meaningful, and dangerous, opponent in his midst. Yes, Jeff 'Left Hook' Lacy is the man who will show us how good the Welsh dragon really is. Calzaghe's been a fine fighter over the years but, due to assortment of problems,he's never managed to morph into a truly great one. Calzaghe against Robin Reid, Omar Sheika, Richie Woodhall, David Starie, Charles Brewer and Byron Mitchell were all mildly appetising fights, rather than tasty ones. Juan Carlos Gimenez, Mario Veit, Kabary Salem, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Mger Mkrtchian were never going to upset the applecart, while Rick Thornberry, Tocker Pudwill, Will McIntyre and Branko Sobot didn't really deserve to be in the same ring as Joe.

But a Calzaghe vs Lacy match-up has everything you could ask for - a confident long-standing champion against a potential superstar, two quick, attack-minded heavy-handed punchers, a Brit versus an American...and both are unbeaten. It has all the ingredients for something special and, providing it gets the go-ahead, it should go down a storm on both sides of the Atlantic.

One of the most tastiest elements about this fight is that, for the first time in many years, Calzaghe has a real chance of losing. Sure, he's a class act, possessing a superb jab, terrific speed, magnificent stamina and a big heart. But Lacy looked simply devastating against Reid in Tampa. Admittedly, the Runcorn challenger was largely disappointing but Reid got a complete going-over for the first time in his professional career. Reid is built like a tank but he was literally bullied around the ring by Lacy. 'Left Hook's' combination punching and willingness to rough up the older man was reminiscent of Ricky Hatton's fight with Kostya Tszyu - and we all know what happened there, don't we?

Calzaghe has tried to play down Lacy's performance, saying Reid was past it. He may have a point, but he would be foolish to underestimate the IBF champion, especially with several question marks hovering over him. At 32, is he on the slide. Were the two knockdowns in his last three fights a sign that Calzaghe's chin is no longer made of iron. If Lacy can manhandle and floor Reid four times - and remember, going into the fight, most pundits believed Robin would take Jeff the distance - surely he can do the same to Calzaghe.

There are so many fascinating aspects to this duel and, providing Calzaghe gets through a warm-up bout on September 10, the best 12 stoners in the world should clash two months later. Calzaghe's career has been too stop-start for most people's liking. He's often talked the talk but not walked the walk - particularly with a mooted move to light-heavyweight and about fighting in the States. Others, including himself and father-trainer Enzo, believe he's not been given the respect his talent, and 39-0 record, deserves. Maybe. Beating Lacy will go some way to changing that, though.

Article posted on 08.08.2005

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