Jeff Lacy: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

“75” rows=”20″ style=”width:100%; height:550px;” class=”mceEditor”>“Well, first of all, Jeff deserves to be on top once again.  For certain reasons we don’t know, only Jeff knows he was derailed.  He was derailed by a great champion and we all know that Calzaghe’s a tremendous champion.” – Oscar De Lay Hoya It has been well over a year since Welsh sensation Joe Calzaghe battered and bruised the much ballyhooed young titlist Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy in the manner in which a cat toys with a mouse before the final kill.  But like Bill Buckner’s infamous error in game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Lacy will forever be tormented by that one monumental misstep regardless the amount of any noteworthy achievements he may compile in his career before all is said and done.  This Saturday night Lacy looks to exorcise such demons and reaffirm his stature as an upper echelon fighter in the talent rich supper middleweight division when he takes on former Contender star and fellow Calzaghe victim, Peter Manfredo.  The bout will have the eyes of the world transfixed upon it as it takes place on the undercard of the Mayweather-Hatton PPV mega fight.  This fight could arguably be a “make-or-break” scenario for the young Lacy who has been sidelined since December of 2006 with both a shoulder and bicep injury that required surgery to repair.  Lacy made it a point to assure gathered media on a recent conference call that all injuries have healed and he is in peak physical shape. “I’ve been in training for the last five months, with rehabilitation of my left shoulder, making it to a point where I feel comfortable throwing it.  So it’s been months that I’ve been in training camp, and I am really looking forward to my return to the ring.”  Lacy continues, “Trust me.  I’m not going to get into the ring unless I’m 110 percent sure that I can throw this thing with full force.” These days must seem strange to Lacy, who for the majority of his career was considered a legitimate superstar in this sport and a media darling.  From his chiseled physique and pleasant demeanor to his “I’m-coming-to-hurt-you-bad” fighting style, fans and media alike were lauding the accomplishments of the young St. Petersburg, FL native.  It’s funny how things can change in the blink of an eye. March 4th, 2006.  A date that will live in infamy, at least in the mind of Lacy and his supporters, for that was the night that the young Floridian met the Pride of Wales.  While Lacy never ceased stalking the accomplished Welshman, his battered and bloodied face reflected the price of such efforts.  With that watershed moment, Lacy’s stock fell faster than Enron.  Gone were the adoring masses, the screaming fans it there stead were new unfounded critiques of Lacy being overrated and nothing more than a one dimensional fighter who got exposed.  For Lacy these dark days were an introspective learning experience and to listen to Jeff tell it, a much needed experience. “Well, the main thing I’ve learned that I’m a very emotional person when it comes down to what people read and what people say about you.  I’ve learned to understand and deal with emotion a lot better than I did before because when you’re on that winning stage, it’s like everybody’s praising you and everybody’s doing this and that.  But when you get a chance to taste a little bit of the bad side of boxing, it kind of really turns your stomach a little bit and keeps you focused on you.”, Lacy would express on a recent conference call. “I’ve learned mostly more about myself.  It’s all about what Jeff wants to do.  What do I want to do, and when do I want to do it, and then if I come to the plate, my fans are going to be happy no matter what.  And that’s the main thing I’ve learned in the last 24 months.” While this all sounds good and well, the first real test of the new and improved Jeff Lacy will take place Saturday night when he tackles the courageous Peter Manfredo. It is no secret that Manfredo’s resume is less extensive than that of Lacy’s, the Pride of Providence has been the more active fighter and could prove to be a tougher than expected test for surgically rebuilt St. Petersburg pug.     “I go into every fight as if it’s a must win, especially with this fight.  Jeff is a big strong guy, big super middleweight, and big puncher.  I’m actually excited about it because I get to be in there with one of the best.”, Manfredo would say.  “I have been fighting in my whole life, and I actually get excited to fight.  I like to fight, I’m an Italian-American and that’s what I like to do.” Jeff Lacy’s career begins anew this Saturday.  His ailments repaired; a new powerhouse promoter in his corner and an edge forged from the spit of the industry.  Consider him Lacy 2.0, harder, better, stronger, smarter.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.