As children, we all pushed our noses to the shop windows, whether it be sweets, a BMX or a Scalectrix set. We’ve all steamed up the glass to try and get closer to our dream. Poor old Carl Froch must still feel like the child on the wrong side of the glass watching the rich kids tucking into mountains of Fruit Salads, Gobstoppers and Coconut mushrooms. Despite a long unbeaten record, status as the WBC number one contender and victories over peripheral players like Brian Magee, Robin Reid, Henry Porras and Matthew Barney he remains sweet less, friendless and excluded in the Super-Middleweight scene. The news Jeff Lacy laboured to another points victory last night will not have cheered the spirits of the confident puncher.
Nobody can escape the reality that boxing is a business first and a sport second. But the determination of Lou DiBella to pitch in his number one charge Jermain Taylor with Jeff Lacy at 168 pounds later this year has a distasteful aroma. Why? Because Lacy is being propped up on his name rather than his form. He is, as the saying goes “a busted flush”. True Lacy was an outstanding Amateur and prior to his brave but thudding defeat to Joe Calzaghe in 2006, a fight in which the Welshman landed over 1000 blows, he was widely regarded as the heir apparent to Calzaghe’s crown.
Hindsight provides a more balanced perspective of course but the more shrewd observer commented at the time that Lacy, for all his physical prowess and exciting style, was a raw, ill-prepared contender. Rushed into the Calzaghe fight in collective haste by the American power-brokers desperate to unearth an American puncher to re-engage young fans lost to the emerging MMA scene, Lacy was too green and too one-dimensional to cause Calzaghe problems. Lazy headlines of “mini-Tyson” afforded Lacy attention and, in truth, an exaggerated reputation. One Calzaghe was happy to feed on and then destroy.
Since, Lacy has had the look of a broken man. He has been unable to reignite the fuse of his youth and appears shorn of confidence and momentum. At 31, he’s post-prime and has already reached his career ceiling. Despite this slump in form – ponderous points victories over Tsypko, Manfredo and last night Epifanio Mendoza by majority decision – in the two years since, maintain a façade of competitiveness for Taylor, with a more predictable style and less ambition to the bout and than Froch who remains a peripheral figure to the US market too..
Froch is also now 31. Remarkable that he hasn’t already ascended to a world-title shot given the four on offer and his pedigree and form. Now in his sixth year as a professional, following a silver medal at the 2001 World Championships, injury has curtailed his progress and patience has become as important as every other fistic virtue Froch has thus far demonstrated.
With DiBella patently unwilling to accommodate Froch’s advances, Calzaghe potentially able, though unlikely, to contest his remaining 168 pound belts against Roy Jones in November – the delay may enable both fighters to make the Super-Middleweight title limit – Froch may prove unable to execute is WBC mandatory ranking. Calzaghe is unlikely to ever face the Nottingham man regardless of weight, belt or timing.
Lesser men have been broken by such isolation. Fans will hope the self-styled Cobra gets the opportunity to measure himself against one of the ‘name’ opponents before his own prime runs out without the glare of a spotlight.