31.01.06 – By Robert Smith: The biggest Super middleweight fight since the whole world watched Gerald McClellan take on Nigel Benn on that tragic night in London, America and Britain will watch St.Petersburg’s Jeff Lacy take on Wales’ Joe Calzaghe at the MEN Arena in Manchester, England (the biggest indoor arena in Europe).The winner of this fight can call themself the best supermiddleweight since Roy Jones Jnr. and would surely deserve a place on the pound-for-pound lists.
The Italian Dragon, Calzaghe, is the longest-reigning world champion in boxing today. But he has only ever held the lightly-regarded WBO belt, a title that holds little respect over here in the States but seems to be accepted over there in Europe. Calzaghe has been searching for a career-defining fight for many years. Finally, the Welsh-Italian gets his wish in the shape of our very own Jeff Lacy.
Calzaghe has beaten five former world champions, but apart from that, and apart from notably beating Omar Sheika in more impressive fashion than Lacy, his title defences are littered with below-par journeymen who should never have been allowed to challenge for a world title. Also, Calzaghe is a Frank Warren fighter which means he has only left Britain twice and has never ventured outside of Europe..
Jeff ‘Left Hook’ Lacy is a bright, up-coming spark, not just in the supermiddleweight division but in boxing as a whole. Jeff is a breathe of fresh air compared to Calzaghe, in that he is willing to take on all-comers home or abroad and fights much more regularly than Calzaghe, too. In his last five fights, in a one-year period, Jeff has already fought opposition almost on-par with what Calzaghe has fought in the last 13 years. The 2000 Olympian, dubbed by some as a 168-pound Mike Tyson, will probably be Calzaghe’s toughest challenge of his career due to Lacy’s fearsome punching power.
Even though Calzaghe is the betting favourite, the favourite among fight fans is certainly Lacy. I think the fight fans are wrong.
As much as I hate to admit it, Calzaghe is a brilliant boxer. He’s one of the most talented fighters of the last 10 years and that’s what annoys us American’s about him more than anything. We would love to of seen him challenge himself by fighting over here and fighting better fighters, because he is an exciting performer with handspeed almost unmatched above welterweight. I do hate to admit it, but Calzaghe is a sharper puncher than anything Jeff has seen. I honestly believe Jeff will be reduced to a punchers chance, but that’s what makes this fight exciting.
In all honesty, Calzaghe will be getting the better of Jeff on the inside, outside, close range, long range, mid-range. But Jeff has power in both hands to drop Calzaghe, he can only hope that Calzaghe’s defence is as loose as it sometimes is. I really think that if they both attack and use infighting, Calzaghe’s tighter, faster hooks will get their first and stun Jeff enough to tame him from throwing his bombs. If Calzaghe decides to be cautious, he has an effective right jab (as proved in his last fight) that would keep Jeff off him enough to visualise Jeff’s next moves then use quick counters. With his Welsh fans packed into the MEN Arena, cheering him on, it’s not suprising that the more experienced Calzaghe is the betting favourite.
I don’t see this fight going the distance, either Calzaghe wins his career-defining fight by stoppage due to superior skills or Jeff Lacy truly starts his career by knocking out or stopping Calzaghe due to superior power. I see it as 60/40 in Calzaghe’s favour and that’s being quite generous to Jeff, unfortunately. It would of been more like 70/30 before seeing Jeff drop Robin Reid four times (Reid had never been dropped before, amateur or pro) which proved his power way beyond doubt. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Calzaghe gets wreckless enough for Jeff to load up a winning punch then jump on him, because Jeff Lacy is a true professional who deserves success, a respectable guy with no sign of any entourage and willing to give the fans the fights they want as well as willing to go for knockouts.
One things for sure, I can hardly wait for March 4!