Preview of Jeff Lacy-Jermain Taylor super-middleweight fight Saturday

St. Petersburg Times boxing writer John C. Cotey takes a look at Saturday's super-middleweight fight between St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy and Jermain Taylor with his version of the 10 count. Ding ding ding!

10 Did you know Lacy has lost only one fight? One.

That's easy to forget after watching Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs) fight through a shoulder injury against Vitali Tsypko, struggle with Peter Manfredo after shoulder surgery and almost get knocked out by Epifanio Mendoza in his three outings after losing the IBF super-middleweight title to Joe Calzaghe in 2006.

Lacy won all three by razor-thin 10-round decisions, but because many expected him to knock out those opponents, they forget those bouts weren't losses.

And that's why he is a sizable underdog going into Saturday's fight.

9 Both boxers fight for the second time with new trainers. Lacy left St. Petersburg trainer Dan Birmingham to return to Roger Bloodworth, and Taylor is back with his mentor, Ozell Nelson, after leaving Emanuel Steward.

8 What a difference a few years make.

In 2005, Taylor was the middleweight champion, and Lacy was the IBF super-middleweight champ. Both were undefeated. Both were former Olympians. Because Taylor was obviously going to move up in class one day (this fight will be at the super-middleweight limit, 168 pounds), it was enough to make their promoters drool over the possibilities.

But along came Joe Calzaghe for Lacy, and for Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, who has beaten him twice in the past year, the first time for the middleweight title. Still, Lacy is approaching this as if nothing's changed.

"I'm still looking at it that way,'' he said. "Everything happens for a reason.''

7 This is only the second time in the modern era that Olympic teammates have squared off. Henry Tillman and Evander Holyfield, roommates on the 1984 Olympic team, fought in 1987 for the WBA cruiserweight title; Holyfield won by a seventh-round technical knockout.

In 2000, Lacy and Taylor were Olympic team roommates and spent more than a few nights talking about a potential showdown.

6 Friends forever? Lacy says he and Taylor are buddies, but this is business. "We're both very competitive,'' he said. After the fight, he said, they might even have dinner together.

5 The debate rages between the two camps over who won the sparring sessions between the boxers during Olympic training. The pair sparred 15 to 20 times. Taylor's camp says he worked Lacy over every day; Lacy's people say Taylor hated getting in the ring with the big puncher and complained every time he had to.

What really happened?

"Exactly what's going to happen Saturday night,'' Lacy said.

4 Keep an eye on Taylor's left jab. When he ruled the middleweight division, it was considered one of the best in the business. That is no secret to Roger Bloodworth, who is a smart enough trainer to know it must be controlled if Lacy is to have any chance.

3 Lacy, who trained for this fight in Houston, says he's been working hard on his jab and plans to bring a different look to the ring: more boxer, less brawler.

"I know (Taylor has) been watching a lot of tape, but basically I'm going do something he doesn't expect,'' Lacy said. "I'm going to shock his system.''

Lacy said his camp has been dedicated to remaking him. "I feel great,'' he said. "I feel different.''

2 The key to Lacy winning is doing what he said in No. 3 and staying with it if it works.

Watch the first two rounds against Vitali Tsypko and Epifanio Mendoza. Lacy was impressive, defensively bobbing and weaving and moving his head like a young Mike Tyson. He landed his jab, controlled the ring and looked like a different fighter.

Once the first big punch landed, though, Lacy reverted to brawler. He is too easily drawn into wars.

"I agree with that, very much so,'' he said. "It was a brawl. I definitely don't want to do that this fight.''

That said, most observers believe Lacy's power and knockout ability are his best chances against Taylor, who is considered the better and slicker boxer.

1 This fight is huge, even for a non-title fight. It's being called a crossroads for both men, all or nothing.

Taylor has lost his past two fights, to Kelly Pavlik. He has taken less punishment than Lacy in the past three years, however, and hasn't had significant injuries. He also has a better promoter, and HBO, which is broadcasting Saturday's fight from Nashville, still views him as a marketable star. It's hard to imagine that changing unless he gets blown out early.

Lacy may be facing more pressure. It could be his last as a viable contender. If he performs poorly and takes a beating, there will be calls for him to hang it up.

But Lacy said that win or lose, he plans on fighting "for another three to four years, and by the time I'm 35, I'll retire."

"I don't think this is a career-ender,'' he added.

An impressive victory would launch Lacy back into the title picture.

It's hard to believe that all the potential he showed as the IBF champ has dissipated, that somewhere the old Lacy isn't waiting to break back out.

He has a puncher's chance to reclaim old glory, which is the best reason to tune in Saturday.

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com

m Jeff Lacy Jermain Taylor

Jeff Lacy

vs.

Did you know Lacy has only lost one fight? Just one.

That's easy to forget after watching Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs) fight through a shoulder injury against Vitali Tsypko, struggle with Peter Manfredo following shoulder surgery and almost getting knocked out by Epifanio Mendoza in his three post-Joe Calzaghe outings.

Lacy won all three of those by razor-thin 10-round decisions, though because many expected him to knock those opponents they forget they weren't losses.

And that's why he is a sizable underdog going into Saturday's fight.

9. Both boxers will be fighting for the second time with new trainers. Lacy left St. Petersburg trainer Dan Birmingham to return to Roger Bloodworth, and Taylor is back with his mentor, Ozell Nelson, after leaving Emanuel Steward.

8. What a difference a few years make.

Back in 2005, Taylor was the middleweight champion and Lacy was the IBF super middleweight champ. Both were undefeated. Both were former Olympians. Since Taylor was obviously going to move up in class one day (this fight, in fact, will be at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds), it was enough to make their promoters drool over the possibilities.

But along came Joe Calzaghe and Kelly Pavlik. Still, Lacy is approaching this as if nothing's changed.

"I'm still look at it that way,'' he said. "Everything happens for a reason.''

7. This is only the second time in the modern era Olympic teammates have squared off. Henry Tillman and Evander Holyfield, roommates on the 1984 Olympic team, fought in 1987 for the WBA cruiserweight title (Holyfield won by seventh round technical knockout).

In 2000, Lacy and Taylor were Olympic team roommates and spent more than a few nights talking about a potential showdown.

6. Friends forever?

Lacy says he and Taylor are still buddies, but this is business.

"We're both very competitive,'' he said.

After the fight, he said, they might even share a dinner.

5. The debate rages between the two camps over who really won those sparring sessions during Olympic training. The pair sparred roughly 15-20 times, and Taylor's camp claims he worked Lacy over every day with his boxing ability; Lacy's people say Taylor hated getting in the ring with the big puncher and complained every time he had to.

What really happened?

"Exactly what's going to happen Saturday night,'' Lacy said.

4. Keep an eye on Taylor's left jab. Back when he ruled the middleweight division, it was considered one of the best in the business. That is no secret to Bloodworth, who is a smart enough trainer to know it must be controlled if Lacy is to have any chance.

3. Lacy, who trained for this fight in Houston, says he's been working hard on his own jab and plans on bringing a different look to the ring. More boxer, less brawler.

"I know he's been watching a lot of tape, but basically I'm going do something he doesn't expect,'' Lacy said. "I'm going to shock his system.''

Lacy said the entire camp has been dedicated to remaking him.

"I feel great,'' he said. "I feel different.''

2. The key to Lacy winning? Doing what he said in No. 3, and if it works, staying with it.

Watch the first two rounds against Tsypko and Mendoza. Lacy was impressive, defensively bobbing and weaving and moving his head like a young Mike Tyson. He landed his jab, controlled the ring and looked like a different fighter.

Once the first big punch landed though, Lacy reverted to brawler. He is too easily drawn into wars.

"I agree with that, very much so,'' he said. "It was a brawl. I definitely don't want to do that this fight.''

That said, most observers feel Lacy's power and knockout ability is his best chance against Taylor, who is considered the better and slicker boxer.

1. How big is this fight?

Huge, even for a non-title fight. Its being called a crossroads fight for both men. All or nothing.

Taylor has lost his past two fights, to Pavlik. However, he has taken less punishment than Lacy in the past three years and hasn't had any significant injuries. He also has a better promoter, and HBO still views him as a marketable star. It's hard to imagine that changing unless he gets blown out early.

Lacy may be facing more pressure. Truthfully, it could be his last as a viable contender. If he performs poorly and takes a beating from Taylor, there will be calls for him to hang it up.

But Lacy said win or lose, he plans on fighting "for another three to four years, and by the time I'm 35 I'll retire.

"I don't think this is a career ender,'' he added.

An impressive victory launches Lacy back into the title picture.

It's hard to believe that all the great potential he showed as the IBF champ has dissipated. That somewhere, the old Lacy isn't waiting to break back out.

He has a puncher's chance to reclaim old glory, which alone is the best reason to tune in Saturday.

Did you know Lacy has only lost one fight? Just one.

That's easy to forget after watching Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs) fight through a shoulder injury against Vitali Tsypko, struggle with Peter Manfredo following shoulder surgery and almost getting knocked out by Epifanio Mendoza in his three post-Joe Calzaghe outings.

Lacy won all three of those by razor-thin 10-round decisions, though because many expected him to knock those opponents they forget they weren't losses.

And that's why he is a sizable underdog going into Saturday's fight.

9. Both boxers will be fighting for the second time with new trainers. Lacy left St. Petersburg trainer Dan Birmingham to return to Roger Bloodworth, and Taylor is back with his mentor, Ozell Nelson, after leaving Emanuel Steward.

8. What a difference a few years make.

Back in 2005, Taylor was the middleweight champion and Lacy was the IBF super middleweight champ. Both were undefeated. Both were former Olympians. Since Taylor was obviously going to move up in class one day (this fight, in fact, will be at the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds), it was enough to make their promoters drool over the possibilities.

But along came Joe Calzaghe and Kelly Pavlik. Still, Lacy is approaching this as if nothing's changed.

"I'm still look at it that way,'' he said. "Everything happens for a reason.''

7. This is only the second time in the modern era Olympic teammates have squared off. Henry Tillman and Evander Holyfield, roommates on the 1984 Olympic team, fought in 1987 for the WBA cruiserweight title (Holyfield won by seventh round technical knockout).

In 2000, Lacy and Taylor were Olympic team roommates and spent more than a few nights talking about a potential showdown.

6. Friends forever?

Lacy says he and Taylor are still buddies, but this is business.

"We're both very competitive,'' he said.

After the fight, he said, they might even share a dinner.

5. The debate rages between the two camps over who really won those sparring sessions during Olympic training. The pair sparred roughly 15-20 times, and Taylor's camp claims he worked Lacy over every day with his boxing ability; Lacy's people say Taylor hated getting in the ring with the big puncher and complained every time he had to.

What really happened?

"Exactly what's going to happen Saturday night,'' Lacy said.

4. Keep an eye on Taylor's left jab. Back when he ruled the middleweight division, it was considered one of the best in the business. That is no secret to Bloodworth, who is a smart enough trainer to know it must be controlled if Lacy is to have any chance.

3. Lacy, who trained for this fight in Houston, says he's been working hard on his own jab and plans on bringing a different look to the ring. More boxer, less brawler.

"I know he's been watching a lot of tape, but basically I'm going do something he doesn't expect,'' Lacy said. "I'm going to shock his system.''

Lacy said the entire camp has been dedicated to remaking him.

"I feel great,'' he said. "I feel different.''

2. The key to Lacy winning? Doing what he said in No. 3, and if it works, staying with it.

Watch the first two rounds against Tsypko and Mendoza. Lacy was impressive, defensively bobbing and weaving and moving his head like a young Mike Tyson. He landed his jab, controlled the ring and looked like a different fighter.

Once the first big punch landed though, Lacy reverted to brawler. He is too easily drawn into wars.

"I agree with that, very much so,'' he said. "It was a brawl. I definitely don't want to do that this fight.''

That said, most observers feel Lacy's power and knockout ability is his best chance against Taylor, who is considered the better and slicker boxer.

1. How big is this fight?

Huge, even for a non-title fight. Its being called a crossroads fight for both men. All or nothing.

Taylor has lost his past two fights, to Pavlik. However, he has taken less punishment than Lacy in the past three years and hasn't had any significant injuries. He also has a better promoter, and HBO still views him as a marketable star. It's hard to imagine that changing unless he gets blown out early.

Lacy may be facing more pressure. Truthfully, it could be his last as a viable contender. If he performs poorly and takes a beating from Taylor, there will be calls for him to hang it up.

But Lacy said win or lose, he plans on fighting "for another three to four years, and by the time I'm 35 I'll retire.

"I don't think this is a career ender,'' he added.

An impressive victory launches Lacy back into the title picture.

It's hard to believe that all the great potential he showed as the IBF champ has dissipated. That somewhere, the old Lacy isn't waiting to break back out.

He has a puncher's chance to reclaim old glory, which alone is the best reason to tune in Saturday.

Saturday, 10:15 p.m., HBO

What: World Championship Boxing.

Who: Jeff Lacy (24-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jermain Taylor (27-2-1, 17 KOs).

When: Saturday at the Vanderbilt University Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tennessee.

TV: HBO, 10:15 p.m.

Preview of Jeff Lacy-Jermain Taylor super-middleweight fight Saturday 11/13/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 14, 2008 8:30pm]

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