Photos by Sumio Yamada
ROY JONES Jr. vs JEFF LACY
When Roy Jones Jr. outclassed James Toney in 1994 I doubt if anyone watching could possibly have imagined that he would still be fighting 15 years later at the age of 40 but he is.
Jones is one of those older fighters who cant stay away from the game. Ask him why he is still fighting and he might tell you that he sees his ability as a gift from the Almighty, adding: Who am I to refuse a gift from God?
This is approximately what he told me in a brief telephone conversation before his fight with Joe Calzaghe last November.
My impression is that Jones is simply enjoying his boxing too much to give it up, while the money doesnt hurt. Jones clearly loves performing and putting on a show, which is what he intends to do on Saturday when he meets Jeff Lacy in the Hook City main event at the Gulf Coast Arena in Biloxi, MS, about 100 miles from Joness hometown in Pensacola, FL. The 12-round light-heavyweight bout is being televised on pay-per-view in the U.S., on Super Channel in Canada and worldwide on the internet.
Jones picks his fights carefully and doesnt often get it wrong. He miscalculated when meeting Joe Calzaghe, who swarmed all over him and beat him up, but this was his only loss in his last five fights.
Obviously, Jones isnt the fighter he once was, but in flashes, and against the right sort of opponent, he can still look very good.
A fast, busy-punching, high-energy aggressor such as Calzaghe was all wrong for Jones. Against a slower, more predictable and less talented type of opponent, Jones is able to box at a pace he prefers and trigger off his still-flashy combinations.
He looked good in his last fight when using Omar Sheika for target practice, but Lacy is going to be a tougher proposition.
Sheika had boxed just once in three and a half years, whereas Lacy is an active fighter who still possesses ambition, is very strong and has heavy hands. There is risk in this fight for Jones. After all, he has been knocked out twice and there was concern for his well-being after Glen Johnson left him stretched out on the canvas five years ago. The possibility that Lacy could land a haymaker gives the fight its element of intrigue.
There is incentive for both fighters. Lacy, 32, is plainly and simply fighting for his career. Jones, meanwhile, looks forward to a fight with Danny Green in Australia, which would be one of the biggest-ever boxing events Down Under but it cannot happen unless Jones gets past Lacy and Green wins his bout on the supporting bill.
Lacy has one of the biggest hearts in boxing but he has been struggling lately, and I know I am not alone in wondering whether the brutal 12-round beating he suffered against Calzaghe three years ago took a lot out of him. Besides this he had an operation to repair extensive tendon damage to his left shoulder. His nickname is Left Hook, but he hasnt been hooking too effectively lately. Jones, who dressed up as Captain Hook to promote the event, is probably going to be the superior hooker in Hook City.
Despite his age, Jones looks the faster, sharper, more fluid fighter. Lacy, though, is durable and determined, and he can hit he knocked down Peter Manfredo Jr. and seemed to drop Jermain Taylor although the referee ruled a slip.
I think that Lacys best chance on Saturday is to bang away with body punches when the older man goes to the ropes which Jones is increasingly wont to do and hopefully slow him down sufficiently to be able to catch him with a big punch.
The evidence of Lacys most recent fights suggest that this will be hard for him to do. He had difficult wins over Epifanio Mendoza and Otis Griffin fighters I think that a peak-form Lacy would have knocked out and he was outboxed and at times outclassed by Taylor. Also, he is boxing for the first time as a light-heavy. It all adds up to a long, hard night for Lacy.
I dont totally discount Lacys chances this is, after all, a 40-year-old version of Roy Jones that he is meeting but I will be surprised if he wins. Jones looks too fast of hand and foot, too slick and too smart for him.
Jones could run into trouble if he gets careless, but I think he is too savvy to give Lacy too many opportunities. His rapid punching especially with the left hook is likely to cause problems for a Lacy who has become something of a plodder.
A points win for Jones seems the likeliest outcome, since Omar Sheika is the only opponent he has stopped in eight years and even then he didnt have his man down. I think, though, that Jones could be the first to stop Lacy, not quickly but by an accumulation of punches towards the end of the fight. Lacy has increasingly shown a tendency to suffer swelling around the eyes, and if Jones is able to keep hitting him cleanly he is capable of doing sufficient damage to have the referee getting concerned somewhere around the 10th round.