By Rick Reeno (photo by Richie Maldonado)
The biggest fight in the super middleweight division since Roy Jones Jr. met James Toney in 1994, is taking place on Saturday in the MEN Arena in Manchester, England. It is very rare in today's boxing world, to see two undefeated champions clashing to settle the issue of who is the best fighter in their weight class.
The IBF super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy (21-0, 17 KOs), of St. Petersburg, Fla., will make the fifth defense of his title against Joe Calzaghe (40-0, 31 KOs), of Newbridge, Wales, by way of Hammersmith, England, who is making the 18th defense of his WBO super middleweight title.
While most view this fight as the signature bout that makes Lacy a superstar in the sport, others feel Calzaghe is not going away quietly. Most American fans don't know much about Calzaghe, and a few facts should be known. Calzaghe won his title on Oct. 11, 1997, and defended it 17 times - which makes him the longest reigning champion in boxing. Another fact is that Calzaghe has not lost a bout since starting his amateur career at age 13. The guy can hit, brawl and has shown a decent chin. Calzaghe is better than most think, and the fight should be explosive as both men predict a knockout.
The staff of BoxingScene comes together to voice their opinions, predictions and analysis on the big fight.
Hank Kaplan - Calzaghe is a smart fighter in the ring, but I think Lacy is too much for him. I like Lacy in this fight. I think Lacy should stop him.
Tim Smith - This is the toughest fight in the career of either man, but I like Lacy because of his strength and power. I like Lacy by decision.
Ron Borges - Although I give Calzaghe a chance to win, I think in the end age and too many years fighting inferior competition will get to him. So will a Jeff Lacy left hook, one that will drop him and hurt him badly enough that he can't continue. Jeff Lacy by TKO in 10.
Sammy Rozenberg - I see Calzaghe hustling Lacy for most of the fight with his boxing skills, until Lacy catches up to him in the later rounds and ends it. Lacy in 11 by KO.
Glenn Wilson - I've been looking forward to this for quite a while. Both fightes know that they are facing the best opponent they have ever been in the ring with. I see this going two rounds. Round one, Calzaghe picks his shots and grabs when he feels Lacy's power. Round two, both fighters opening up and Lacy catches Calzaghe to ends it. I believe there will be twelve rounds of action packed into two rounds.
David Sauvage - Jeff Lacy is going to come in strong and wild, looking to brawl and pummel. But the Welshman, though known for brawling himself, can safely be called a veteran of the game. Calzaghe could still end up like most of Lacy's other opponents, but my gut tells me a smart Calzaghe beats a green Lacy by way of an exciting twelve-round decision.
Eric Rineer - Joe Calzaghe has been the man in this division for a long time. He's got a remarkable record and he's the more experienced fighter. The match even takes place in England. All the odds seem to favor him. However, Jeff Lacy is an animal in the ring and he is hungry to add another title. He's fought in England before, and he's won in England before. I think the younger, hungrier man wins this fight regardless of where it's being held. Jeff Lacy by KO in 8 rounds.
Larry Tornambe - Jeff Lacy will see this opportunity as his crossing of the threshold to greatness. I am not saying that he'll be considered great by winning this fight, but it will be the beginning of what we'll be talking about in 10 years with respect to Lacy's career. Joe will do his best to use his experience, but it'll be Lacy winning by late TKO.
TK Stewart - It's the best match that can be made right now at 168 pounds. The winner will have stamped his mark on the Super Middleweight division and will be the true champion at that weight. Jeff Lacy is one of the best young titlists within the sport of boxing right now. Lacy brings excitement to the game and when promoter Gary Shaw says that Lacy is a cross between Mike
Tyson and Evander Holyfield, I think he's right. Something strange about Joe Calzaghe is that even after 40 fights and numerous WBO title defenses, many American boxing fans still don't know if he's the real thing and they still have a lot of questions about him. The fight with Lacy is going to clear all of that up for us and that's what makes it so attractive.
What I like about Calzaghe is that I've seen him get off the floor and win. I've seen him fight with a broken hand and win and I've seen him fight through being hurt and win. I haven't seen Jeff Lacy prove himself in the manner in which I have seen Calzaghe prove himself. Lacy gets hit too much for my liking and he fights like a puncher when I don't think he has that big of a punch. Against an experienced opponent such as Joe Calzaghe I think Lacy is going to run into some real problems if he tries to run straight into Calzaghe like he ran into Omar Sheika and Syd Vanderpool.
I like Calzaghe in this one. I think overall he is a better fighter, has more experience, and has proven that when the going gets tough he can get going. Don't forget that Calzaghe has never lost and it always takes a lot to beat a seasoned, undefeated fighter fighting in front of a partisan crowd. I think a lot of Americans are going to be surprised by Calzaghe and I like him by stoppage, probably around the eighth or ninth round
Mark Workman - Short and sweet. I've never believed that Joe Calzaghe could stand up to the awesome power of the Tampa Bay banger, Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy. I expect Lacy to rain down a torrent of uppercuts and trademark left hooks upon Calzaghe and completely demolish him. I don't see it going beyond round nine.
Carlos Irusta - I see Lacy winning, because he has more power than Calzaghe, who never lived up to fans' expectations.
Evan Korn - Lacy will overwhelm Calzaghe en route to a second round KO.
Don Caputo - Out with the old, in with the new. Five years ago, Calzaghe's hand speed and limitless stamina may have been enough to tame the ferocious Lacy. But after years of stagnation against sub par opposition, it is very hard to see Joe emerging victorious on Saturday night against perhaps the most powerful opponent he has ever faced. Of course he will have the home advantage and still possesses superb boxing skills, but I'm going with the younger and considerably stronger Lacy by late stoppage. A barrage of punches around the 9th round will signal the end of the Welshmans long reign - but expect him to go out on his shield.
Adam Pollack - This is a really difficult one for me to predict, which is why I am so excited about it. My first impression is that this is a very bad matchup for Lacy. Calzaghe has underrated abilities. He is fairly quick, can move, has enough pop to get respect, is southpaw, has the far superior experience, and can win decisions. On the other hand, Lacy is a ball of granite, an irresistible force, with huge power in either hand, good speed for a puncher, probably has the better chin, has been improving lately, is younger, and just a real talent. This will be a battle of wills. I see this one being about whether Calzaghe's chin can hold up against Lacy's bombs, and whether Lacy can catch up with him and avoid being hit by Joe's blazing combos and not get totally puffy, busted up, and outpointed. Should be a good one. I'm going with Calzaghe, but it will be a nail biter waiting to see what happens when he gets hit.
Tom Donelson - Joe Calzaghe has been a long time champion, who defended his title almost as many times as Jeff Lacy has actually fought. His advantages is that he is a clever boxer, has a high work rate and does have power as his knock out percentage will attest.
Jeff Lacy' advantage is that he is a plugger who wears opponents down and has power in both hands. Calzaghe's disadvantage is that he may be slipping and the other knock is that he doesn't fight outside of Great Britain. And the latter is not a major factor for this fight since he is fighting Lacy in his backyard anyway.
Lacy's disadvantage is that he is susceptible to boxers and Calzaghe will be the best boxer that Lacy has faced and he often loses many early rounds. Against Calzaghe in his backyard, this could prove crucial. Calzaghe will get or should get the benefit of any close rounds so Lacy may find himself in a position to have to win by knock out.
If this fight was being held in the states, I would favor Lacy but it is not. I love Lacy as a fighter but Calzaghe has been a excellent fighters for years and much of his body of work has been hidden from the American public. My heart says the knockout of power of the young American will triumph but my head tells me that Calzaghe ring experience and homefield advantage will prove the decisive factor. Calzaghe wins by a decision.
Joe Harrison - I think Jeff Lacy lacks the skills and experience that Joe Calzaghe has. However, Calzaghe is past his prime and this should be a very difficult fight for him. Surely, Lacy will eventually connect with one or two of those wild left and right hooks that not even Calzaghe can shake off.
Lacy over Calzaghe by 8th round KO
Johnny Ortiz - I see Lacy coming out strong early. If Calzaghe can weather the early storm that Lacy will surely bring, I like him the longer the fight goes. Joe's vast experience should help him going into the deep water rounds. Although he too has power, Joe must avoid getting into exchanges with Lacy early in the fight. Lacy is the more powerful puncher but his problem is that he loads up with just about every punch he throws, over the long haul it could deplete some of his power. I look for Joe to use his experience and intelligence in order to take Lacy into the late rounds where he should win a decision or stop a somewhat tired Lacy. Joe Calzaghe is a proven champion, he just might be catching Lacy at the right time in his early career. It should be one hell of a fight while it lasts, you cannot count Lacy out because of his awesome power, he just cannot get too anxious.
Richard McManus - Calzaghe’s brand of aggressiveness and southpaw punching style might pose problems for Lacy. He knows how to win and knows how to pull the rod out of the fire. Lacy also knows how to win but it remains to be seen if he can deal with the pressure of Calzaghe.
Prediction: Calzaghe by decision
Dr. Peter Edwards - Lacy's defense is the difference in the fight. I've seen fighters like Omar Sheika stun Lacy with his big punches. I think Calzaghe will catch him cold with a big punch and puts him away in 10.
Paul Gallegos - Unless the world of boxing is turned upside down, I fully expect Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy to roll right through Calzaghe. This is Lacy time and as one of the few athletes in the sport who never lets himself get out of shape, this match shouldn't be a problem. Calzaghe has the experience edge and the crowd, but I really feel that youth must be served in this instance. There are holes in Lacy's shield as far as defense is concerned, but he has overcome many of these obstacles by reinventing himself with outstanding power and unfettered will. Lacy by KO in the seventh.
James Blears - This is going to be Jeff Lacy’s fight “hands down.” Lacy who’s known as “Left Hook,” has accused Joe Calzaghe of being a “Slapsie.” This has stung Joe, who’s recovering from a broken hand and who’s hands are notoriously brittle. I think the action is going to be explosive.
Lacy looks ripped, ready and ravenous. It almost reminds me of Marvin Hagler vs. Alan Minter, all those years ago. Joe hasn’t faced a quality lineup in his career, yet Jeff is as awesome as they come at this weight. I don’t think it’ll go more than four rounds. During that time Jeff will overpower and knock out Joe. Joe has a champion’s heart and has never tasted professional defeat, so he will initially get up. There’ll be several thrills and spills before it ends. Let’s hope the Manchester crowd isn’t too disappointed and show their sporting class when this happens.
Matthew Hurley - Lacy is a fighter I'm very excited about. He has tremendous power but he has also shown resiliency in his brief professional career. Traveling to Europe to fight the oft-percieved reluctant Calzaghe just proves how focused and determined he is.
Calzaghe is 40 and 0 with 31 knockouts but a bit of a mystery to many American fans. His refusal to travel abroad has always bothered me - that along with pulling out of fights due to injury. He's a talented guy and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but one flaw he has is that he often doesn't pull his right jab back quick enough. It's a flaw that could prove disastrous against a left-hooker like Lacy.
I think it will be an interesting bout during the early rounds with Calzaghe giving the young upstart some problems, but then Jeff will begin to wear his opponent down both with his punching power and tenacity.
Lacy TKO 8 Calzaghe
Jim Cawkwell - This is a very significant unification worthy of the boxing world's attention. It's difficult to break down the records of each man and declare one a certain winner over the other because they are both undefeated and have beaten a very respectable class of opposition, only Calzaghe has done so over a longer period. Calzaghe has the experience, but Lacy has youth and enthusiasm. Lacy has immense power, but Calzaghe has one of the best chins in the game, and so the debate continues. Cardiff Arena would have been home advantage for Calzaghe, nonetheless, there will be a significant number of his Welsh fans on hand at the MEN Arena in Manchester that should give him a psychological boost.
Lacy struggles with southpaws and I believe that Calzaghe is the most talented southpaw at the weight. I think this is a very dangerous fight for Calzaghe as long as it lasts but he can do himself a favor by digging in some hard shots to Lacy early. If Calzaghe cannot keep Lacy honest in the early going, Lacy will try to overwhelm him. Calzaghe may have wanted to avoid fighting overseas, but that is just the same as many American fighters doing the same and they all escape the criticism that has been heaped upon Calzaghe. As good as Lacy is, Calzaghe is a very dangerous fighter when his back is against the wall. In situations like this, a fighter can fold under the pressure or produce the fight of their life. Calzaghe will endure Lacy's best to produce a close decision win.
Ron Gallegos - This one will be sure thing, you can take it to the bank. Lacy will take him out by the fifth round. Jeff still needs to work on his defense, but in the end, his offensive fire power is more than enough to take out anyone in the division. Lacy looks like a chiseled ebony greek god. He's what's right with boxing.
Rusty Rubin - The only way to beat Calzaghe in Wales is to take it out of the hands of the judges. Lacy by TKO in 7.
Javier Molina - Calzaghe will fight his heart out, but Jeff Lacy will be too much
to handle. Jeff's power will be the key to victory. Lacy by KO.
Rick Reeno - A hard fight to pick. They say an undefeated fighter does not know how to lose, and I don't expect either of these two fighters to go down without a fight. Calzaghe's punching power is very underrated and Lacy's chin is a bit overrated - which makes the fighter that much closer to me. There is always a chance Calzaghe will catch Lacy with a shot big enough to end the fight, but I don't expect that to happen.
Joe has not been involved in a very physical fight in several years. Lacy on the other hand is making every fight an action packed brawl. I think Joe will eventually fall into the Lacy trap and engage him on a toe to toe basis. In the end, Lacy will break him down within ten.