Jeff Lacy isn't St. Petersburg's most famous boxer - that honor still belongs to good buddy Winky Wright - but that could all change on March 4 when Lacy takes on WBO super-middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe in Manchester, England. Lacy, the IBF champion, is 21-0, and Calzaghe is 40-0. The fight is being billed as the most significant in the division since 1994. A victory would be the biggest of Lacy's career and establish him as one of the sport's most popular figures. He left for Manchester on Friday. Thursday he sat down with Times boxing writer John C. Cotey:
You are quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces in all of boxing. What's the coolest thing about your success, the best perk?
I walk in the shoes of the kids watching and enjoying what I do. That's all it takes is for one or two kids to see something that I do or hear something I might say that might change their life or send them on a different path. That's what I'm all about. I don't want to sound like (I'm perfect). I have my flaws too. But when it comes to going out and touching people, I'm really all about that. Seriously, no joking around, I'm all about that.
If that's the best thing about being famous, what's the worst?
I would have to say the fact that I'm looked at sometimes by adults as not a normal person. Everybody looks at you as if you can't have a bad day because you're a celebrity. Sometimes, I just don't want to be known.
You. A deserted island. You get one CD.
Something easy listening. I'm a thinking man, I'm laid-back and I'm mellow. I'd rather listen to something that's going to soothe me. If I'm stuck there, I'd rather enjoy it than walking around thinking, man, how am I going to get off this island?
I hope you're talking Luther smooth, and not Kenny G smooth.
Oh, yeah, Luther, something smooth and mellow or Sade. I'd listen to something like that.
Everyone talks about your body. The pipes. The abs. When you're looking in the mirror, what part do you look at that makes you go, "Awwww, hell yeah!"
I'd have to say my traps. I like my traps.
If you weren't boxing
I'd be a fireman.
Who was the last boxer to hurt you?
I would have to say Omar Sheika, second round of our fight (in December 2004).
If you could watch one of your fights on a continuous loop, which one?
The fight with me and Vanderpool for the title (October 2004).
Most embarrassing moment?
You know what, I don't really have an embarrassing moment, I kid you not.
Jeff Lacy vs. Rocky Balboa?
Ooooh man, that would be a fight. That'd be a fight to end all fights. I could see the stadium being sold out, and you got two guys that are going to come forward and one guy is going to take a lot of punches and take a beating for about eight rounds and then Rocky gets knocked out.
Do you lift weights?
No. This is just natural.
Okay, Herschel Walker. You're telling me you have not lifted a single weight?
Well, I used to lift weights as a younger kid. Probably high school. When I used to lift weights, I'd get tendinitis. Like right before the Olympic trials (in 1996). Ever since high school, I haven't been lifting.
Rank these: Money. Fame. Winning.
Winning. Money. Fame.
Dream fight, you and ?
Dream fight, you and anybody from history.
Me and Marvin Hagler.
Let's play word association. Joe Calzaghe.
I'm gonna test him.
I can't wait.
Great guy, great promoter.
You're only 28 and only 21 fights into your pro career, so you're not on any pound-for-pound lists yet. Will you be after March 4?
Seriously, I don't focus my attention on someone's pound-for-pound lists. Those are just someone's opinion. Anybody can be knocked off that list at any time.
But there's still something magical about pound-for-pound, no? Sure, it's an opinion, but to be on everyone's list, that says something.
It goes back to people's opinion. I read it, I don't focus my attention on it, when I get there I get there. Right now, it doesn't matter if I'm 50 or first, I really don't care.
I got you a little higher than 50. (Laughs nervously).
Who's on your pound-for-pound list, top three, in order?
Winky, Manny Pacquiao no, Manny Pacquiao, Winky um ummm mmmm me!
But of course.