Jeff Lacy's win on Saturday night over unheralded Ukrainian Vitali Tsypko opened up a whole new batch of questions regarding the former super middleweight champion's career, his future, and even his past.
For starters, how about these: Did Joe Calzaghe seriously dent Lacy's confidence, and even his ability? Was Tsypko simply overlooked, by fans, promoters, or even Lacy himself? Or has Jeff Lacy been an overhyped fighter all along?
What is Jeff Lacy's biggest win? Right now, it appears to have been his 2005 TKO victory over Rubin Williams, as Williams is the only even moderate name fighter that Lacy has beaten that didn't then fall apart or retire. He has beaten mostly journeymen with no serious track record.
But, we know who he's lost to, and that's Joe Calzaghe, who had the same questions about his record going into the Lacy fight. Calzaghe became the undisputed king of the super middleweight division with his dominant, near-embarrassingly easy decision victory over Lacy in March, and if you saw Jeff Lacy on Saturday, you know that that was not the same fighter that we were supposedly seeing pre-Calzaghe.
Lacy took it to Tsypko for two rounds, and then Tsypko adjusted. Furthermore, Tsypko hardly fought a great fight. He was a sitting duck for most of it. Lacy, perhaps in an attempt to prove just how back in the game he was, went for an early KO, and could not get it. Tsypko took some good shots, but it wound up being Lacy who was on the defensive for much of the fight. Lacy's majority decision victory was controversial but not what you'd term a robbery. I had Tsypko up a point, but it could have gone either way, and you know that's the real deal when scorecards in somebody's hometown, in a fight they're supposed to win, are as close as those were.
So is Lacy all he was cracked up to be?
Of course he's not. Who ever is, really? Lacy is a likeable, marketable, exciting, young American fighter. He's a former Olympian. And after his loss to Calzaghe, Lacy didn't offer up a single excuse that wasn't, "I need to work on my boxing skills." Lacy came into that fight expecting, publicly, to knock Calzaghe out. When he didn't, he changed his tune.
And where does Lacy go now? Calzaghe is going to fight Manfredo, which means Calzaghe/Lacy II -- which shouldn't happen anyway -- isn't going to be Left Hook's next fight. In a division that has plenty of fighters coming up through the ranks, there's no time for Lacy to be having even a mild breakdown. Current WBC/WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler could use a shot in the States, where he hasn't fought in six years, spending most of his time in Denmark. Carl Froch, another Brit, wouldn't be hurt by a fight against Lacy, and Lacy, if he beat Froch (particularly if it was in England), could get some sort of steam toward a rematch with Calzaghe, which he hasn't earned in the ring.
I don't know where Jeff Lacy goes from here, but it likely won't be long before we find out. He's a quality fighter, probably not the superstar some thought he was going to be (and that he was told he was going to be), but he didn't suddenly become a tomato can, either. The second chapter of Jeff Lacy's career did not get off to a promising start against Tsypko, but a win is a win, and as long as he wins, he'll get another crack at the top soon enough. How he fares next time is still up in the air.