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Lacy's year, maybe career, over

Jeff Lacy's comeback is over.

Is his career, too?

Tests taken Monday revealed that Lacy - nicknamed Left Hook - suffered a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder during Saturday's fight with Vitali Tsypko. The injury requires surgery and will keep him out for a year.

The St. Petersburg super middleweight, a former IBF world champion and 2000 Olympian, was injured in the second round of his majority decision win over Tsypko at the St. Pete Times Forum.

"This is bad," said Lacy's adviser, Jim Wilkes. "There's a question whether this may be career ending. The doctor (Tampa's Richard Goldberger) who looked at it said it's amazing Jeff even finished the fight."

Full open surgery is required to repair the damage, Wilkes said.

Lacy (22-1, 17 knockouts) was making his long-awaited comeback after a crushing defeat to Joe Calzaghe in March.

Before the extent of the injury was revealed, the 29-year-old's performance Saturday was criticized, and many wondered if it was a sign that he hadn't recovered from his first defeat.

"He's more devastated by the fact that he got trashed about the fight, when he felt like he fought one-handed for 10 rounds," Wilkes said. "He won the fight, and all anybody wanted to do was criticize him."

Lacy told trainer Dan Birmingham after the second round that he had pulled something, but he kept fighting.

He stopped throwing his left with the same frequency, which had been effective early, and resorted to one punch at a time in hopes of landing a knockout.

Lacy's inability to hold his left arm up as the fight went on led to Tsypko continually finding the mark with his right hand and rallying to make the fight close, Birmingham said.

"Jeff was absolutely brilliant those first two rounds, but then he threw his shoulder out," Birmingham said. "He came back after the second and third rounds and said, 'It's out of socket. I can't use it.' "

Former heavyweight champion Vladimir Klitschko had a similar injury in 2000, forcing him to quit on his stool after the ninth round and surrender his WBO title to Chris Byrd despite being ahead on the scorecards.

He was able to come back from the injury and regain the championship.

"It's hard fighting with one arm, but Jeff kept punching, and he won the fight," Birmingham said. "He showed a lot of guts fighting with one arm."

John C. Cotey can be reached at cotey@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6261.

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