They’re calling this fight “Hook City,” in honor of the left hook, though a better name might be “Last Chanceville” or “Sunset Junction.”
The left hook is what Roy Jones Jr., rode to eight world titles. Though it’s been pretty quiet recently, his hook used to be a thing of rare beauty, a kind of ace-in-the-hole he’d turn over and play whenever he grew bored or tired or just wanted to make it a short night.
For Jeff Lacy, the left hook defines him. Or at least it did. You don’t make “Left Hook” your nickname unless you’re not worried about giving away any secrets. It’s a snappy name telling his opponents what they might want to look for when the bell rings.
“Listen, Rocky. I don’t know much about this Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy kid you‘re fighting, but something tells me you might want to watch out for his left hook.”
It’s like a pitcher telling you he’s going to strike you out with nothing but high fastballs. And he does.
Fading skills or not, “Hook City” is the name for the Aug. 15 pay-per-view fight between Jones (53-5, 39 KOs) and Lacy (25-2, 17 KOs) at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi. They’ll be fighting for the NABO light-heavyweight championship, which is a little ways south of a world title.
It’s not a huge fight as far as the division goes, but it is a big fight for both Jones and Lacy, two guys trying to see what they have left. They‘ve struggled over the past few years and each is looking for a little redemption. It’s probably a “must win” for Lacy while it would be a “nice win” for Jones, who has nothing left to prove but keeps trying anyway.
For Lacy, a former two-time world champ, this fight is a chance for him to beat one of the biggest names ever in the fight game. He’s moving up a weight class from super-middleweight, but the money is good and this isn’t the same Jones who plowed through the middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions back in the 1990s and early 2000s.
But it’s for more than just name recognition. Lacy, 32, has lost two of his last six fights, losing to Joe Calzaghe and Jermain Taylor. In his last fight in April, he won a majority decision over a guy named Otis Griffin, who was 19-4-2 at the time. He needs to show something, prove he‘s coming back.
Jones, meanwhile, has lost four of his last eight fights, losing to Calzaghe, Glen Johnson and twice to Antonio Tarver. Before that, he was 49-1, his only loss a disqualification for hitting Montell Griffin when Montell was already down.
At 40, Jones’ hook has had some wear and tear. It’s probably near retirement, but for now, it should work.
While Jones’ hook is starting to show signs of age, Lacy’s is still relatively young, though it hasn’t always been around when Lacy needed it most. It was a no-show against Calzaghe. In terms of years, his hook is still in its prime. It just has to share a little time in the spotlight now.
“The left hook is still there, but I love my right hand now,” Lacy said in a recent interview. “Call me Left Hook, but now I have a hell of a right hand.”
He‘s going to need both against Jones.
“Roy Jones is a huge challenge for me,“ Lacy said. “If you’re not doing it to him, he’s going to be doing it to you. But I’m in great shape and every day I’m in the gym, I’m fighting on all cylinders.”
In honor of their left hooks and to help promote their fight, Jones has been given the nickname, “Captain Hook,” which might attract the attention of the Peter Pan crowd and the idea of being young forever, which doesn‘t work in the fight game.
It’s a temporary nickname, added to make sure this fight has a “hook” or two to help sell tickets. When it’s over - win, lose or draw - he’ll be Roy Jones Jr. again. Say good-bye to Captain Hook. After 59 fights, it’s a little late for new nicknames.
At a recent press conference, Jones said he doesn’t see the fight going the distance.
Neither does Lacy.
“I’m a puncher and if Roy says it’s not going to go 12, then so be it,” Lacy said. “With the way I feel right now, I agree with Roy. This fight won’t go the distance. The fight will end in a KO and Roy will not hear the last bell.”
Like most of us, Jones said he’s well aware of what Lacy brings to a fight.
“We are both power punchers with both hands,“ he said. “There are going to be all these hooks, but on Aug. 15, I, ‘Captain Hook’ will prove to be the better hooker.“