Former Olympian Jeff Lacy was a victim of over-hype syndrome and is in the midst of a vertical plummet. He clings on to his career with courage and grit, but it is surely slipping away from him - for one reason or another.
Lacy has suffered injuries, like his left shoulder, which have dramatically limited his arsenal, which was never the most luxurious array of weapons to begin with. He has a thumping right hand, which is capable of backing opponents up. Periodically, this is set up with an impressive jab. But after his unravelling at the hands of Joe Calzaghe, who single-handed exposed the fearsome bully, the monstrous puncher in Lacy as a tragic myth, the Olympian has looked painfully vulnerable. He has just about lost every ounce of the aura which once engulfed him when he was bulldozing his way through the super middleweight division, overwhelming Robin Reid (whom Calzaghe struggled against) and Scott Pemberton.
There's nothing more statisfying for me when a boxer who shows potential, is defeated for the first time, but picks himself up and comes back stronger. I desperately wanted to see Mikkel Kessler bounce back and win the world title because he is a world class fighter for me, who came undone against one of the elite fighters of our times. Kessler is back with two impressive knock outs and the Welsh demons have surely been exorcised. In Lacy's 'comeback' after Calzaghe, it is painfully apparent that he is still carrying those demons. There is a pattern to his fights now, which started with the Vitaly Tsypko fight. He lands thudding right hands in an attempt to assert himself early on, yet when he realises that his power is not making a huge impression, the way it used to, doubt creeps into his mind like a poison. He runs out of ideas, gets tagged repeatedly and ends up clinging onto his opponent, or rugby tackling them like he did against Epifanio Mendoza. Sad. Barring of course, Jermaine Taylor, Lacy's best buddy, who probably went easy on the fallen Olympian anyway, Lacy has encountered crisis after crisis against average fighters. Both the Tsypko and Mendoza decisions were controversial and he could have easily lost both.
He didn't. He got through them, with a little help from the judges and he managed to grind out a win against Manfredo Jr, whislt not disgracing himself against Bad Intentions - even having Taylor on the canvas at one stage. To his credit, Lacy has never been stopped, but is he a spectauclar stoppage waiting to happen? Or is he, like he says, in a better place now and reinvigorated with a new mental strength?
His career has some parallels with British Olympian Amir Khan, yet Khan is far from fallen. Though he has fell a few times, Khan still has a chance to put things right. Lacy is on just about his last chance tonight, against Otis Griffin, who has three stoppage defeats in his last four fights. Get the job done Jeff, and show us all you have something left to give.