By JE Grant
IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff Lacy, 19-0 (15 KOs), is set to take on challenger and former WBC (and a handful of other alphabet titles) champion England’s Robin Reid, 38-4-1 (27 KOs), on August 6th in Tampa.
As readers of my column have come to know, I am an unabashed believer in the potential of Lacy, 28. He possesses the best power in the division and, despite his relative newcomer status, shows poise and determination. He is still a little rough around the edges, but is the best bet to dominate the division.
Reid, 34, will provide a bit of a nuisance but not much else. He is a solid journeyman but he won’t stand up under the heavy artillery Lacy will bring.
Of course this fight is supposedly the only thing that stands in the way of a unification bout with WBO belt-holder Joe Calzaghe, 39-0 (31 KOs). Calzaghe is widely regarded as the best in the division. Of course big unification fights have had a way of not happening where he is involved.
Calzaghe, 32, himself a victor over Reid (W12, Feb. 13, 1999), was never able to lure multi-belt holder Sven Ottke into the ring, and Ottke retired undefeated. Other talked-about fights, with light-heavyweight king Glen Johnson and undisputed middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, eluded him.
Lacy, on the contrary, appears to be one of the few champions today who defends often and openly calls on the big names.
He is fighting in his fourth world title fight in 10 months, and is aiming for a fall unification with Calzaghe in the fall --- assuming he can avoid the last minute collapse in negotiations that occurs whenever Calzaghe gets near a serious bout.
For Reid, this is likely the end of the title road should he lose. Since losing to Calzaghe he has lost in his only meaningful championship challenge, against the tricky Ottke (L12, Dec. 13, 2003) in a controversial decision. He has also won and lost in bouts for the more obscure alphabet titles.
All-in-all, this “mandatory” defense (yes, Reid is inexplicably the top-rated available IBF contender) will serve primarily as a tune-up for whatever bout takes place in the fall. If, for some reason the Calzaghe match falls out, you can bet Lacy will defend again before the year is out.
The Lacy-Reid bout will air on Showtime.
If only the other champions of the world could follow his lead…….