Jeff Lacy isn't ready to retire. Not even close, really. Sure, he has suffered some setbacks since reaching the top of the boxing mountain. Two losses. Poor performances. Injuries. Distracting business wranglings. But that was then. This is now.
Tonight at the USF Sun Dome, Lacy steps into the ring against Otis Griffin clear-minded and free of the business-side distractions that had taken the fun out of the game.
In fact, the St. Petersburg resident is fighter and promoter with tonight's card the first under the banner of Left Hook Promotions.
"I've been thinking about this for a while,'' said Lacy, who is coming off his second career loss, Nov. 15 to Jermain Taylor.
"I'm doing this to make myself happy.''
The site isn't a fancy casino, and his fight, at a catch weight of 173 pounds, won't be on a televised card for one of the rare times in a 27-fight career.
And that's fine with Lacy, who refutes any claims he is starting over or rebuilding.
"This (promoting) is taking all my time and effort. I'm just trying to get this first fight out of the way,'' he said. "I'm still rated a top-10 fighter and have a huge name. But this is all about the crawl.''
Lacy (24-2, 17 knockouts) is ranked No. 7 by the IBF, whose super-middleweight title he held in his heyday. He is taking on a guy who also has struggled recently.
Griffin (19-4-2, seven knockouts) started his career 18-1 but has been knocked out in three of his past four fights.
Both fighters are 31.
Lacy, who hasn't had a knockout win since 2005, believes a victory Saturday — especially an impressive one — will open up a title fight or a meeting with another self-promoted boxer, Roy Jones.
"He's been calling me out,'' Lacy said.
"There's a chance that fight happens.''
Still trained by Roger Bloodworth, Lacy said he will pursue the best fights he can in either the 168- or 175-pound divisions.
Mostly, he is eager to put the past behind him.
"Mentally and physically, I haven't felt this way in a long time,'' Lacy said.
"I'm walking on a cloud and in great spirits.''