Lacy vs Calzaghe: Will History Repeat Itself?

15.01.06 - By Neil Thompson: After over 8 years and 17 defences of his WBO Super Middleweight title, Joe Calzaghe could be facing his most difficult challenge to date in the current IBF champion Jeff Lacy. Joe Calzaghe has been widely considered the best supper middleweight on the planet for a long time now and has undoubtedly the most impressive record in this division. Victories over world class fighters such as Chris Eubank (former 2 weight world champion), Richie Woodhall (former WBC champ), Byron Mitchell (former WBA champ), Robin Reid (former WBC Champ), Charles Brewer (former IBF champ) aswell as stopping the tough Omar Sheika. Unfortunately Joe has also had his fair share of hand picked challengers who should have never been allow to challenge for his title, such as Tocker Pudwill, Will McIntyre and Miguel Jimenez etc. Calzaghe is the official longest reigning champion in the world of boxing. But is his long running stint as the divisions number one almost over ? …… many believe so.

With the rise of America’s Jeff Lacy, many in the US believe he is already the best in the division. Mr Lacy has been IBF champ for only 15 months but in that short period of time has already seen off 4 challenger including a very impressive display against Calzaghe’s old nemesis Robin Reid.. Robin took Calzaghe to the limit while Lacy easily dealt with the ‘Reaperman’ within 8 rounds. However Lacy struggled to a points win over Omar Shieka, a fighter Calzaghe stopped within 5 rounds without too much trouble.

Lacy’s strength is awesome. In 21 fights Lacy has shown explosive power with a come forward style that overwhelmes most of his opponents. So far Lacy has looked good but has not mixed with the division best as yet. Can Lacy look as impressive against the likes of the WBO kingpin and world number one Joe Calzaghe or the impressive WBA champ Mikkle Kessler, or the 3 time WBC champ Markus Beyer, or with the tested and tough aussie contenders Anthony Mundine and Danny Green. With Jeff’s fight with Calzaghe only 6 weeks away we shall soon see if Lacy’s the real deal or just hype.

Many view Lacy as a star on the rise and see Calzaghe as an ageing champ ready for a fall.
Others see Lacy as a hyped up, untested pretender who will get the surprise of his life when the two meet in Manchester on the 4th March.

I have followed the career of Calzaghe since he beat Chris Eubank in October 1997. Since that fight I have come to the conclusion that the ‘Pride of Wales’ is pound for pound one of the most talented fighters to be produced in Britain. Joe has terrific hand speed, good power, good workrate, good conditioning and a solid chin. Despite this his career has never matched his talent. Responsibility for this has to be aimed at only himself and his promoter Mr Frank Warren. Warren is known in the boxing world for being difficult to negotiate with and is notorious for over protecting his fighters. During his 8 years as champ and 8 years of being considered the best in the division … the career defining fights have never happened, until now. The question now is ‘has it come too late’?. Joe has been known for most of his career for having a rock solid chin, but Joe has now been knocked down in 2 of his last 5 fights. Is his chin becoming more fragile with age, if so, Lacy could be getting Calzaghe at the right time. Calzaghe loves to brawl and sometimes will let his heart rule his head and will opt to slug it out with fighter he could easily out box. He did this with Mitchell and Salem, got dropped but came back to win both. If Joe opts to go toe to toe with Lacy it could be lights out for the Welshman. Another school of thought is urging Calzaghe to do just this. I have never seen Lacy being forced on the back foot. I suspect that like Mike Tyson, Jeff is incapable of fighting on the back foot and once you’ve forced Jeff back he’s very beatable, but this is a dangerous game against someone as physically strong as Lacy.

Personally I think this is close to a 50 – 50 fight but home advantage for Calzaghe could be the difference. Comparisons can be made with Nigel Benn v Gerald McCelland. Benn was the ageing champion against a hot prospect who looked very powerful and was perceived as boxings next superstar. Most boxing experts expected the young American to blow Benn away. But after the fight it became apparent that everyone was over rating McCelland and under rating both the ageing champ and the home advantage Benn had. Well we all know what happen in that fight …. Benn won an explosive war …….. Well, I’m expecting history to repeat itself. I think Calzaghe will box for the first half of the fight and then stand his ground in the second half. With the home crowd roaring Calzaghe on, Joe will stop Lacy in the 10th or 11th round. Even if this prediction is incorrect I still anticipate a hard fought war that has many ups and down for both fighters but Joe’s superior speed and work rate proving too much for the stronger Lacy.

Article posted on 15.01.2006

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