Joe Calzaghe’s Hammering Of Jeff Lacy Turns 18

By James Slater - 03/04/2024 - Comments

Was this perhaps the great Joe Calzaghe’s greatest ring performance? It was 18 years ago today when “The Pride of Wales” dished out one of the most memorably thrilling beatdowns ever seen in the 168 pound division. Facing the feared, some said next superstar of the sport, Jeff Lacy, Calzaghe refused to let his chronic hand trouble bother him any more than he allowed the “Left Hook” hype train to affect him.

In short, in a much belated coming out party (this at a time when Calzaghe had been the ruling WBO super middleweight champion for over eight long years, with Joe having made some 17 title defences) Calzaghe shone brilliantly. Lacy was unbeaten himself, this at 21-0 to Calzaghe’s 41-0, and he was the reigning IBF champion. Calzaghe, aged 33 to Lacy’s 28, ripped everything from Lacy – his belt, his unbeaten record, the remainder of his career. For if ever we saw in graphic detail one fighter ruin another, we saw it in this fight.

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Photo by Tom Casino / Showtime

Calzaghe unleashed hell in the form of around 1,000 punches (actually 948 thrown punches according to punch stats), with Lacy taking far too many of them. It was as one-sided a domination job as you could point a stick at. Calzaghe, showing his inner spite along with his other great fighting qualities, was enjoying himself as he took Lacy apart, bit by bit, piece by piece. Absolutely the fight should have been stopped, this brutally apparent by the second half stage.

Instead, Calzaghe was merciless, as was the referee, as was Lacy’s corner. Battered, bleeding but somehow hanging in there, Lacy may have had a touch of satisfaction over at least having managed to see it through to the final bell, but there was only pain, confusion and more pain etched on Lacy’s face at the end.

Calzaghe was now a true star, on both sides of the Atlantic. It would be a little over two years before Joe finally boxed in America, but he was now, due to the Lacy hammering, accepted by all as the best super middleweight on the planet. Lacy tried to rebuild but he was never remotely the same force again, with the Floridian going 6-5 post-Calzaghe, with Lacy being stopped three times.

Watching southpaw dynamo Calzaghe go to work the way he did 18 years ago today remains a thrill. Calzaghe’s sizzling ring display was special. It might have been perfect.

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