TAMPA — Former super-middleweight title-holder Jeff Lacy entered the ring at the USF Sun Dome late Friday hoping to resuscitate his career against Otis Griffin in a promotion tabbed "Homecoming."
Lacy won the 10-round light-heavyweight bout by majority decision 97-93, 96-94, 95-95, but it drew a smattering of boos from the pro-Lacy crowd of about 2,000. It was clear the St. Petersburg resident still hasn't regained the fire he had before he was overwhelmed by Joe Calzaghe in 2006 by a unanimous decision.
After the fight, Lacy (25-2) got on a microphone and issued a direct challenge to Roy Jones Jr., who sat ringside.
"There's a chance we could have another big fight here in the Tampa Bay area," Lacy said. "Roy Jones Jr. is in attendance. I would love for him to take a challenge to fight me here in the Tampa Bay area. Any time, but only in Tampa."
Jones Jr., 40, a four-division champion, sounded receptive to Lacy before the bout.
"I like Jeff Lacy. He's a great fighter," Jones said. "I don't really need to watch him fight to see if I'm going to fight him. If we're going to fight, we're going to fight regardless. So I came down here to see what's happening."
Griffin (19-5-2), who clearly held his own, said afterward he believed he deserved a shot at Jones.
"It's a shame in this sport you can still get robbed in somebody's hometown," Griffin said. "I think Roy should be fighting me."
Lacy, 31, returned to the town where almost four years ago he defeated Robin Reid in front of more than 15,000 at the St. Pete Times Forum. The fight sparked a frenzy of local interest that even drew Michael Jordan ringside in 2005 for a fight between Antonio Tarver and Jones.
Lacy bounced up and down Friday and held his gloves high in the air before the opening bell. In black trunks with blue trim, he felt out Griffin in the opening minute. Then he became the aggressor, advancing and trying to work Griffin inside.
In the second round, Lacy came out quickly and went straight for Griffin's head with a flurry of shots that pleased the crowd. Griffin stayed composed and fought back in the third round, protecting his left eye with his glove and advancing at Lacy. He kept advancing in the fourth round, before Lacy landed a punch Griffin waved off as no big deal. Griffin and his cut man did a good job of protecting the damaged eye.
In the fifth, Griffin still seemed unfazed and continued to hold his own, trading blows with Lacy. Lacy came out more aggressive in the sixth, going back to the body, but Griffin still did not back down.
In the eighth round, Lacy had another powerful shot to the head that brought out a few cheers.
In the ninth, Griffin hit Lacy hard enough to cause a welt over his left eye. Fans began to boo.
In the 10th, both traded a couple of big punches, and the crowd began to chant "Lacy! Lacy! Lacy!" Once again, Lacy went to the body and tried to finish strong. Griffin again hit a couple of shots to even things out, then pointed his gloves to Jones.
Lacy had last fought in November, losing to friend Jermaine Taylor in a 12-round unanimous decision. It was his second loss in five fights.
On the undercard, Lenroy Thomas of St. Petersburg defeated Wes Taylor by technical knockout at 1:16 of the second round; Adam Jaco of Sarasota beat Roberto Failey by a split decision; Derrick Wilson and Tampa's Kermith Gonzalez fought to a draw; Henry Mitchell defeated Danie Staden by unanimous decision; Said Harrak beat Darnell Jones by unanimous decision, and Adwairky Lopez beat Caitlin Dance by unanimous decision.