‘Left Hook’ Knows It’s Time To Answer Bell After ‘Bad Night’

By Martin Fennelly
Updated: December 4, 2006

TAMPA— Ten months ago, this was the world center of boxing. Remember? Tampa Bay was crawling with title holders: middleweight Winky Wright, light heavyweight Antonio Tarver and the up-and-comer to beat all, super middleweight Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy.

One day back then, the Big Three descended on this news center to mug for cameras. Nothing could stop their fun.

How the mighty have fallen.

Only Jeff Lacy fell furthest.

Tarver was pummeled by Bernard Hopkins in June, but still has a winning part in the impending sixth “Rocky” movie. Wright had a June draw with Jermain Taylor ( “I won that fight,” Wright insists), but maintained his pound-for-pound reputation.

Then there was Left Hook.

Wrong turn.

He smiled.

“It’s all about the coming back.”

A Bad Night

In March, Lacy, undefeated in 21 fights, feared worldwide, with arguably the hottest future in boxing, climbed into the ring against Joe Calzaghe in Manchester, England.

He got his ears pinned back.

“I just had a bad night,” Lacy said.

Calzaghe took Lacy apart across 12 shattering rounds. He kicked the ever-living aura out of him.

Jeff Lacy is back. Or is he? Anyway, he was at the Forum on Wednesday to promote his return to the ring Saturday against a Scrabble hand named Vitali Tsypko, as well as the bout between his friend Winky and Ike Quartey.

“A bad night,” Lacy repeated. “I took the night off. Just like when you come to work. One day you might not feel up to par. That’s one of those nights I had.”

Lacy smiled again.

“You ever had a day when you didn’t write so well?”

Kid, you’re looking at a bleeder.

Lacy bunkered down after the loss. “I had to sit back and evaluate what happened,” he said. He avoided most media and still bristles at what he sees as critical treatment by Tampa Bay newspapers.


The vast majority of Lacy newspaper coverage has been positive. How could it not be? For the longest time, the kid was on his way.

Time To Get Back Up

Winky Wright talked about Left Hook:

“I know he got a little dogged out with it, with everybody, but I told him, ‘It’s OK. That’s boxing. We win, we lose. People are going to talk about it. The best way to shut people up is to come back with a great performance.'”

The concern is Lacy’s just-a-bad-night, negative-press talk. Not letting a beating like that inside your head is one thing, but denial is another. Lacy needs to find more ways to win instead of searching for enemies, real or imagined.

The road back begins against Tsypko, a southpaw who hails from Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine, also known as “Gateway to West Dniepropetrovsk.”

“My name is still feared in the super-middleweight division,” Lacy said.

He fought at the Forum last year, hammering Robin Reid before 15,000. Another big house is expected Saturday. Only this time, it’s there to see Jeff Lacy get back up.

“I will,” he said.

Don’t count him out.