Only Three Weeks To Go To The Big Sports Network Bill From Manchester
In a fight originally scheduled for November 5, unbeaten super middleweight champions Joe Calzaghe and Jeff Lacy put their perfect records on the line during the early morning hours (2AM British time) at the Manchester Evening News Arena on Saturday, March 4.
Calzaghe, a champion since 1997, has seen numerous big fights fall through. In his reign as champion, we have heard fights mooted with such names as Roy Jones Jnr, Bernard Hopkins, Glencoffe Johnson, Antonio Tarver and Clinton Woods. In reality, since winning the championship, he has defended the title seventeen times. Although inconsistent at times, his record boasts some big names and big performances with top Americans such as Omar Sheika, Charles Brewer and Byron Mitchell having been tamed. Throw in the wins over such experienced campaigners as Chris Eubank, Juan Carlos Giminez, Robin Reid, and Richie Woodhall and you can argue that in the world championship arena, Calzaghe is one experienced champion.
In the opposite corner we have American Jeff Lacy, whose only had four more professional fights than Calzaghe has had title defences. Unbeaten in twenty one fights with seventeen knockouts, Lacy is the division's dangerman. He won the title in 2004 with an eighth round stoppage of Syd Vanderpool and has since made four successful defences and has for the most part looked impressive stopping Rubin Williams, Robin Reid and Scott Pemberton as well as outpointing Omar Sheika. But now comes the acid test.
Arguably, it is in fact the acid test for both men, make no doubt about it.
Unfairly labeled "Sicknote" by the critics for the numerous postponement of defences, Calzaghe will be up for this one. Lacy; the young gun, the man in a hurry, is also in no mood to travel all the way to England to lose. What a fight this promises to be.
In addition to both men's world championship credentials there is also an extensive amateur pedigree that both men can boast of having; Lacy was a 2000 Olympian and Calzaghe won three ABA titles at three different weights.
As the old saying goes, "someone's 0 must go" come fight night. With the amateur and pro experience both men have, I can't possibly believe that either man will freeze. However, we won't know 'til fight night. Will Joe come out all guns blazing and run into a left hook from Lacy? Will Lacy do the same and be blown away by Calzaghe? Will Joe's niggling injuries be a factor?
All these scenarios are entirely possible. That's the beauty of this fight. The element of the unknown. I can't wait.
In a welcome addition to the bill, the undercard boasts a fascinating domestic cruiserweight clash. This sees longtime WBO champion Johnny Nelson meeting Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli.
Winner of twenty two of his twenty three pro fights, Enzo is a big hitter with seventeen knockouts to his name. Nelson, on the other hand, has been champion since 1999 after two previous unsuccessful title attempts. Again, this promises to be a fascinating fight with old meeting new and puncher meeting the boxer.
So is it a big night for the Welsh? I certainly think one man will be successful but I also reckon that experience will be the order of the day in both matches.
In the cruiserweight matchup, Johnny Nelson I think will frustrate Enzo and outscore him.
In the main event, Calzaghe's southpaw form will cause problems for the younger man. The Welshman has met all styles in his eight years as champion and if he's drawn into a brawl, he will be all too willing to oblige. Byron Mitchell found that to his cost in 2003 after Joe was floored. The Welshman has also won a fight one handed, evident in his last win over Evans Ashira. Lacy's day will come but I think that he will find Calzaghe is still the man. Joe may have some shaky moments but I think he can pull off a hardfought decision win.