On October 2nd Syd "The Jewel" Vanderpool will enter the ring as the underdog against Super Middle sensation Jeff "Left Hook" Lacy at the Mandalay Bay. The bout will be for the IBF 168-pound title and serve as chief support to the Wladimir Klitschko-DaVarryl Williamson headliner.
Both fighters earned the right to fight by making it through eliminators as Vanderpool defeated Tito Mendoza while Lacy advanced by not losing to Vitali Tsypko. The Lacy-Tsypko bout in June of this year ended in a "no-contest" due to a head butt, yet the IBF gave Lacy the nod to face Vanderpool. Since turning pro Lacy has been appointed ‘the chosen one’ and the fact he gets this title shot is testament to that fact.
While Lacy has been groomed from the get-go, Vanderpool has been doomed. Despite a stellar 35-2-0 record, complete with 23 knockouts, Vanderpool has been largely ignored by most of boxing’s organizations and has yet to get the recognition he deserves. Oddly enough, that fact may be why he is getting this bout with the prodigy Lacy. If Vanderpool were known for all he can do he may have been bypassed by Team Lacy here too.
After losing by knockout in his fifth professional fight to freakishly strong yet unknown Terry Seay (who knocked out every opponent in his seven career wins), Vanderpool went on a seven year winning streak that included capturing the WBO and NABO Middleweight titles in 1998. Those wins came against solid competition such as Lonnie Beasley and Glencoffe Johnson and the IBF rewarded ‘The Jewel’ with a shot at the IBF 160-pound title guarded by Bernard Hopkins. While Hopkins handed Vanderpool his second loss, it was far from a blowout and Syd hasn’t lost since.
Vanderpool has defeated former title challenger Jaffa Ballogou and Tito Mendoza as Lacy comes along with wins over old fighters out of their league such as Ross Thompson, James Crawford, and Richard Grant. In his victory over Grant, Lacy showed he was available to be hit, Grant just didn’t have the power to do anything about. Lacy has been handled well by Gary Shaw and the time to step up was coming soon. But is now the time and is Vanderpool the right guy? We will learn on the 2nd of October.
"The Jewel" from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada is a strong veteran super middle who is hungry for recognition. A win over wunderkid Lacy would bring just that and hopefully the financial compensation that comes with it. In taking on Vanderpool the team representing Lacy may have a lot of confidence that their fighter is ready. Vanderpool has decent power, not of the one-punch KO variety, but of the kind that takes a little more out of his opponent with each blow. He comes at his enemy from a southpaw stance and certainly never has lacked confidence.
As far as the Canadian is concerned, Lacy is nothing more than a one-trick pony or a one punch wonder – the left hook. Lacy certainly doesn’t use the jab as well as he should and relies on the hook to wear opponents down and then apply the finishing touches. His defense can be left wanting and now he takes on a difficult lefty.
The problem with being known as a one-punch fighter is that once you meet up with a fighter who figures it out and has the skills to do something about it, Plan B suddenly becomes a good idea, if only there were one. It has been tested and confirmed that the most effective punch against a southpaw like Vanderpool is a straight right hand to set up everything else.
Does Lacy have an effective right hand, or a Plan B against Vanderpool? We’ll find out soon enough.