Friday, April 15, 2005

Jeff Lacy vs. Robin Reid -- Lacy to defend again

By JE Grant

Jeff Lacy, 19-0 (1 NC) (15 KOs), has the potential to rise to stardom in the boxing world. Already a title-holder, he appears to have the skills, the motivation, and more importantly, the willingness to put it on the line against the best in the business. While his nickname “Left Hook” is somewhat confusing, given that it does not appear to be his best weapon, he certainly is potent with both hands.

The announcement that he will take on the current number 1 (IBF) ranked Robin Reid, is at once a disappointment and fully expected. He must take on Reid, 38-4-1 (27 KOs) at this point in his career. It is probably a good calculation on his part to engage in a mandatory defense. Their bout, now set for August 6th, is yet another fight featuring a champion and someone who is rated number 1 --- but who isn't really the top fighter in the division.

Of course a fight with Joe Calzaghe or Mikkel Kessler would prove satisfying, or even more entertaining would be fights with stars such Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver or Roy Jones. None of the sanctioning bodies can pretend to rate only the best to be number 1 if they simply ignore the existence of other sanctioning body champions.Hopefully he doesn't become so beholden to the sanctioning body that he forgets his dreams. He's already said he would fight Hopkins for relative pocket change.

He knows that to be the best he must beat the best.Lacy also hopefully understands that Robin Reid does not represent the best in the business. Reid, already a title challenger (and loser) to then-WBA/IBF champ Sven Ottke, and long-time WBO belt-holder Calzaghe is indeed a former champion from many years back. However, his best is likely well behind him despite him having won several recent fights.Reid's biggest victory in the years since his short WBC super middleweight tenure has to be Brian Magee. Magee, a fighter who has fought only in Ireland and England, has proven as reluctant to take on the major world powers as Calzaghe. The fans of boxing in the British Isles are as loyal as any on the face of the Earth, but eventually they will grow tired of seeing their local fighers protected against all legitimate foes.

And forget Reid’s IBO and WBF "titles" as quickly as possible. They weren't world championship caliber bouts by any stretch of the imagination.

Just as surely, we can't say yet that Lacy has beaten a slew of world beaters. Although his wins over Omar Sheika and Syd Vanderpool represent solid efforts, neither was anywhere near the class of Jones or Hopkins. What makes Lacy's case different is that he understands that fact and wants to face the super champs. He is not hiding (at least so far) behind the rules of a sanctioning body for long stretches and has actively sought big bouts. He is also just 19 fights into his career. Stretch that streak to 30 without facing a real contender and we’ll criticize him just as surely as we criticize Calzaghe and crew.

He has learned from his Sheika and Ruben Williams defenses but he must continue to improve. He seems to know that.Lacy can quickly remove himself of the self-imposed obscurity that is besetting Calzaghe. Calzaghe seemingly always has a reason to not fight the top fighters in his or any other weight class. He just couldn't seem to make a deal with Ottke; can't ever come to terms with Hopkins; and never quite got in there with Roy Jones. He's 38-0, a long-term titleholder, and we still don't know if he can fight. Perhaps he'll leave the British Isles long enough to prove he can really make a go of it.

Perhaps Lacy will continue to be motivated by his 2000 Olympic experience where he lost in the quarterfinals and went home without a medal. No medal has apparently pushed him to excel above expectations as a pro. He fights as if he has something to prove each time out.

"Not winning an Olympic medal was a blessing," said Lacy in a Showtime website profile (Showtime will air his bout with Reid). Since that time he has been on a mission to confirm his status as a fighter to be reckoned with.

When all is said and done, Lacy may wear multiple straps at super middleweight and perhaps have a much longer reign as a light-heavyweight. Robin Reid should prove a mere bump in the road. None of us can say for sure where Lacy will end up, but he clearly wants to go to the mountain, something which is refreshing for the super-middleweight division.

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