Lacy Slides Past Mendoza

By Francis Walker
Updated: July 24, 2008

Jeff Lacy
photo by Tom Hogan Golden Boy Promotions

Jeff Lacy photo by Tom Hogan Golden Boy Promotions

NEW YORK — Jeff Lacy is on a mission to prove that he is still the exact same fighter that bulldozed his way toward a world title four years ago.

Lacy steamrolled through the super middleweight ranks after his pro-debut in 2001. Lacy won the IBF 168-pound title less than four years after starting his pro career.

However, some ring experts believe that Lacy was never the same fighter after losing the super middleweight title and unbeaten record to Joe Calzaghe more than two years ago.

Lacy appeared vulnerable during a December 2006 rematch with Vitali Tpyko and 10-round decision win against Peter Manfredo, Jr. in December 2007. Lacy also hasn’t fought in eight months and has fought just once in the last 18 months, in particularly due to a torn rotator cuff which has kept him out of action.

We must remember that Lacy remains one the top 168-pound fighters in the world. His one loss a pro was to the world’s best super middleweight boxer in Calzaghe.

After forming a relationship with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, along with a continuous determination to resume his boxing career, the 31 year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida, is once again on track toward earning a world title fight.

Lacy recently appeared in a nationally televised fight in an attempt to show the world that he can still be the force he once was before he lost his world title.

Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs) struggled and was nearly knocked out during a surprisingly close, 10-round majority decision victory against Epifanio Mendoza (28-6-1, 24 KOs) at the Morongo Resort and Casino in Cabazon, Ca. on Wednesday.

The three judges at ringside scored the bout 95-95 (even), 95-94, and a surprising 97-93 for Lacy.

Lacy was aggressive in the opening round. He had Mendoza trapped in a corner and carefully picked his shots. But Mendoza stunned Lacy coming in with a right hand to the top of the head in the second round.

Lacy was seriously hurt, as he wobbled around the ring. Mendoza went for the finish, but didn’t throw the necessary combinations to knock Lacy out. Instead, Mendoza threw chopping right hands that did nothing.

Lacy did comeback with a solid left hook to Mendoza’s head to end the round. Lacy continued to dominate Mendoza in the third; landing left and right hooks to Mendoza’s head. Mendoza was there to be hit, but so was Lacy.

Overall, the fight was exciting. However, it didn’t have the finish that everyone had expected– a “Left Hook” Lacy knockout.

“I felt like I did a marvelous job,” Lacy said afterwards. “I went out there and beat a guy for ten rounds.”

Lacy has become increasingly conscious about getting hit. Lacy has not recorded a knockout in almost four years, as Mendoza became the third consecutive opponent to last the 10-round distance with Lacy since his one-sided loss to Calzaghe.

In that fight, Lacy was brutally smacked around the ring for twelve rounds by Calzaghe and suffered a knockdown. Lacy’s face was a puffy and swollen mess.

Against Mendoza, Lacy looked a lot slower than he did three or four years ago. Lacy’s punches and combinations weren’t as crisp as they were years ago. His footwork wasn’t as fast as it was in recent years.

There times when Lacy looked as through he was going to fall into Mendoza, as opposed to firmly sitting on his punches and throwing bombs.

Lacy was seriously hurt several times in the bout, including the eighth round. Mendoza unloaded with some serious left hooks and right uppercuts that trapped Lacy in a corner.

As Mendoza went for the finish, Lacy shoulder tackled Mendoza across the ring onto the mat.Following the accidental foul, Mendoza came back to wobble Lacy with a left jab.

He rocked Lacy with a left hook to his head. Lacy, again, was seriously hurt.

“I’m a warrior,” Lacy immediately said afterwards. “I was in there for ten rounds. He kept hitting me in the back of the head, hurting me. I still stuck in there and did my damage to him as well. I want to talk about the decision. He had ten rounds to finish me and he didn’t do it.”

In other bouts: a number of De La Hoya’s prospects from his Golden Boy stable were showcased as well.

Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Rios
photo by Tom Hogan Golden Boy Promotions

Daniel Jacobs vs. Sergio Rios photo by Tom Hogan Golden Boy Promotions

Four-time New York Golden Gloves titlist and amateur standout Daniel Jacobs (8-0, 8 KOs) kept his perfect record intact. The 21 year-old from Brooklyn continues to be showcased the undercard of major boxing cards including: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya vs. Steve Forbes, Joe Calzaghe vs. Bernard Hopkins, Joel Casamayor vs. Michael Katsidis, and Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor.

Jacobs was expected to knockout Sergio Rios (18-9, 16 KOs) and did just that. Jacobs KO’d Rios at 2:46 of the first round. Rios, loser of his previous seven bouts, hadn’t won a contest in three years and has been KO’d six times in his career.

Top-rated lightweight title contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz (26-3, 16 KOs) knocked out Miguel Angel Munguia (16-13-1, 13 KOs) 42 seconds of the fifth round off a beautiful left hook to the body.

It was Cruz’ first fight since losing a controversial 12-round split decision to Joel Casamayor last November. Cruz is the No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger to WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquaio, who knocked out David Diaz to win the title on June 28.

The Velazquez twins of Puerto Rico were also in action in separate featherweight fights. Carlos Velazquez (8-0, 7 KOs) stopped David Vazquez (17-13-3, 10 KOs) following an accumulation of body punches in the second round.Juan Velazquez (9-0, 5 KOs) knocked out Edison Morillo (12-6-2, 1 KO) in the first round.