Calzaghe Schools Lacy, Unifies IBF/WBO Titles

By Francis Walker
Updated: March 6, 2006

Joe Calzaghe vs. Jeff Lacy bout in Manchester, England on March 4, 2006. Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

Joe Calzaghe vs. Jeff Lacy bout in Manchester, England on March 4, 2006. Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime

NEW YORK — Joe Calzaghe stunned the boxing world with the way he handled undefeated American Jeff Lacy during their super middleweight championship unification bout in front of more than 12,000 at MEN Arena in Manchester, England on Saturday.

Calzaghe (41-0, 31 KOs), making the 18th successful defense of the WBO 168-pound title, won his first IBF crown following a dominant 12-round unanimous decision against Lacy (21-1, 17 KOs).

The three judges scored the bout 119-107 (twice) and 119-105, as Calzaghe dominated Lacy from the opening bell. The 33-year-old Calzaghe was surprisingly too quick for the 28-year-old Lacy. He fought Lacy from close range throughout the entire fight. Lacy appeared to be a human punching bag for Calzaghe.

“I focused on some of their comments about me slapping my punches,” Calzaghe said afterwards. “So if I am a slapper, then I must slap pretty damn hard judging by the state of Lacy’s face.”

Lacy’s eyes were badly swollen and bloody. Although Calzgahe was docked one point for holding in round eleven, Calzaghe punctuated the finest performance of his career by knocking Lacy down for the first time in his career during the final round.

“He came into that ring under-estimating my power and not once did he hurt me, not once did he trouble me,” Calzaghe said of his punching power.

Calzaghe said of Lacy’s punching power: “I was quite surprised – I expected his punches to be harder than they were. I’ve been in with harder punchers.”

Lacy was recognized for his “left hook,” which coincidentally is his nickname. His signature left hook and sneaky right uppercut couldn’t find its mark against Calzaghe. Lacy is a former U.S. Olympian who began his professional career in 2001, won the IBF title in Dec. 2004. Lacy has recorded four successful title defenses.

Many believed Lacy to have been Calzaghe’s equal and apparent successor in the super middleweight division.

I just used my southpaw jab, my foot speed and [Lacy] just had no answer to my superior hand speed. But that was my game plan and he had no answer and whilst his face looks damaged I am unmarked and despite his predictions about stopping Joe Calzaghe, in reality I was never hurt,” Calzaghe added.

Calzaghe initially won the WBO 168 pound title in October 1997 with a unanimous 12-round decision against Chris Eubank. Calzaghe has had many exciting fights. He can box and proved against Lacy that he is not afraid to fight straight forward landing bombs against anyone in his division.

Calzaghe was criticized for struggling in performances against former world champions Richie Woodhall, Charles Brewer, Byron Mitchell, and Robin Reid in recent years.

Calzaghe ended all criticism by defeating a young, hungry, and undefeated world champion in his weight class on his home turf. Calzaghe has fought 38 of his 41 professional fights between England and Wales without having fought outside Europe.

It appears that Calzaghe will continue to feast off home-cooking in friendly judges, and a pro-Calzaghe audience.

Lacy will have to rebuild his career. There was talk of Lacy moving up to the light-heavyweight (175 pounds) division to challenge either Antonio Tarver or Roy Jones. With Tarver challenge former world middleweight champion, Bernard Hopkins in June and Jones coming off three consecutive losses the last two years, Lacy has to re-launch his career.