Taylor lays claim as a Super Middleweight

By Tom Donelson
Updated: November 16, 2008

Gloves IOWA CITY — Jeff Lacy’s nickname says everything that you needs to know about how Lacy used to fight. “Left Hook” was his nickname and that punch provided the edge that allowed him to be undefeated when he faced Joe Calzaghe.

Calzaghe gave Lacy a boxing lesson that he’s yet to recover. Since that loss, three close victories and a shoulder surgery changed Lacy as a fighter. With a surgical left shoulder repaired, Lacy changed as he worked on his right hand but the left hook that devastated many of earlier opponents went by the wayside.

Lacy had one hope to beat Jermain Taylor, throw that newly developed right over Taylor’s left jab. For Lacy, his fight with Taylor was his crossroad fight and he had more to lose than Taylor for a loss would effectively end his career as an elite fighter at the 168-pound division.

Taylor’s goal was simple, a victory would make him a force in the newly crowded Super Middleweight and Taylor needed to win to get his career back on track. He had speed and piston like jab when he used it plus enough power to hurt Lacy.

On paper, this was an easy fight for Taylor and for the first four rounds, it was that easy. After a feeling out period in the opening rounds, Taylor unleashed his jab and for the first time in a long time, his jab become the deciding factor in his fight plan.

Lacy could not defend against the jab coming quickly at him and Lacy never attempted to slip those jabs but chose to simply use his head to block the jabs. With 45 seconds left in the third round, a Taylor jab followed by a left hook and right hand buckled Lacy’s knee and it appeared that maybe the fight would end right there.

Lacy survived the round and in the fourth round, the Taylor jab repeatedly struck Lacy’s face. Going into the fifth round, it became obvious that this fight was going to be an easy Taylor wipe out and the suspense appeared to be taken out of the fight.

With a minute left in the fifth, a Lacy right caught Taylor and he went sprawling but the referee ruled it a slip. This made the round a 10-9 round but both fighters treated the knockdown as a knockdown and the replays clearly showed that a right hand sent Taylor down.

From this point, Lacy put Taylor on notice that he could throw that one fight changing punch. Despite the one-sided nature of the rest of the fight, at least there was suspense that maybe, just maybe, Lacy can deliver that one punch winner.

Taylor came back in the sixth to take back control of the fight but in back of everyone’s mind, could Lacy change this fight with one punch?

As the fight progressed, Taylor showed ring smart as he nailed Lacy with straight jabs and occasional power and when Lacy lunged forward, he merely hugged Lacy and this acted to smother Lacy’s power.

Lacy’s occasional throw his right but more often than not, the right hit air or Taylor gloves as oppose to Taylor’s body. Those piston like jabs set up most of Taylor’s combination and Lacy found himself on the defensive.

In the 11th round, Taylor caught Lacy with a left hook with less than a minute and forced Lacy to the rope. Taylor went for a knock out but Lacy hung on just as he did in the third round. The 12th round merely reinforced what went on for the rest of the fight as Taylor jab cemented the deal.

The victory gave Taylor his cred back as a fighter; he is now in position to take on bigger fights. The first fight that team Taylor wants is Calzaghe but that fight would have to be at least 170 pounds for Calzaghe is no anxious to come back down to Super Middleweights.

In a division that features solid fighters like Kessler and Bute, there are plenty of big fights available and championships belts accessible. While Calzaghe would be a big money fight, there is nothing to suggest that Taylor could beat Calzaghe at this stage of his career.

The Super Middleweight division is becoming an excellent division with great fighters and young fighters on the rise. Taylor showed technical skills that he had not shown in the past.

In the past, Taylor depended upon his athlete skills but against Lacy, his punches looked sharper and shorter. His right hand, which often looked more like a shooting a bow in the past, were minus the extra hitch that he often threw that punch within the past.

As for Lacy, he looked like a one punch fighter and often he threw one or two punches at time. He tried to win the fight on one punch but his accuracy disappeared.

Taylor connected on nearly half of his punches, but Lacy hit Taylor with less than one of every five punch. Lacy no longer has any defensive skills and he is simply becoming easy to hit and without that feared left hook; there is nothing left for Lacy to fight with.

His right will never match the left hook that was his trademark early in his career. Without his best punch, Lacy is simply evolving into a punching bag. There was time that both of these fighters were the next best thing for American boxing.

Taylor still has a career but Lacy never truly recovered from his defeat at the hand of Calzaghe. That fight combined with surgical repaired left shoulder has rendered Lacy a spent force.

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