The Roy Jones Jr. Farewell Tour exhibits it’s latest show on Saturday night in Biloxi, Mississippi, and this time former IBF Super Middleweight champ Jeff Lacy is the chosen opponent. It’s always a pleasure to see such a great fighter as Roy Jones Jr. compete in a boxing ring and although many pundits think he is totally faded, I believe he was quite impressive during his performances vs. Felix Trinidad, Joe Calzaghe and Omar Sheika. Of course Super Roy is not near his spectacular prime form, but the Floridian is still an excellent pugilist, as evidenced by the effort he gave against the then pound-for-pound top gun Calzaghe. Superman showed flashes of his extraordinary brilliance and had his moments with Calzaghe in the early rounds.
When you consider that Jones’ career was pronounced dead after the Tarver and Johnson KO losses, the fact that Roy Jones was able to pick up the pieces and put them back together and actually be competitive with such a prime fighting machine as Calzaghe, is one of the more impressive comeback stories of the decade. Jones is still marching on, inspired and motivated by whatever it is that is lighting his fire.
On paper, it appears that Jeff Lacy is fated to play the secondary role to Jones. Lacy has not been the same since the battering he endured from Calzaghe. He seemed to lose an irreparable amount of confidence from that defeat. The fire and passion and burning desire just haven’t been there for Lacy in his most recent fights.
Sometimes brutal defeats kill something in a fighter and they never regain that missing element.
I asked Lacy’s old trainer Dan Birmingham, what he thinks happened in the Calzaghe fight? “I didn’t like the fight when they made the fight because I knew the caliber of Calzaghe. I knew Jeff had a tough time with quick-footed southpaws. But I really thought Jeff had a real shot to win, I really did. But there was a lot of circumstances that was going on in his head with his promoter, his girlfriend at the time. I think it kind of deterred his thoughts in his head.”
Was the atmosphere of fighting in front of a huge impartial crowd a negatively overwhelming influence on Jeff’s performance?
“For me, no,” answered Birmingham. “Because Winky Wright had fought there three or four times. And I noticed how the English fans are. Doesn’t matter, hometown favorite or somebody coming in, who’s ever winning the fight, if you start winning the fight against their fighter, they’ll start cheering for you. I noticed that about the English fans. But no, it wasn’t overwhelming. I try to put the fans out of my head and try to do my job. I actually enjoy and love England.”
Even a 40-year-old Roy Jones is going to be an extremely difficult task for Lacy to overcome. But one of the mysterious beauties about boxing is, sometimes you never know what will happen, sometimes the projected hardest fights end up being one-sided dominations … and the expected “easy” fights turn out to be dramatic wars.
Virtually everyone associated with boxing – from insiders, boxers, trainers, pundits, journalists, to forum posters – are all tipping Jones to handle Lacy, who is now being trained by Roger Bloodworth.
Birmingham agrees, to an extent. “I have yet to hear one person say Jeff has a chance.” But the St. Petersburg-based trainer believes there is a glimmer of hope for Lacy, against all the odds. He says, “Lacy has to make it a war and hope that he can catch Roy.”