This isn't the kind of left hook used to hug grandma, quiet the dog or rake in poker chips.
Instead, like a surly cop busting up a loud party, the left hook of Jeff Lacy arrives unexpected and uninvited, the kill joy of all kill joys.
Lacy's hook has already earned top billing. He goes by the nickname “Left Hook” Lacy, which pretty much spells out what to look for. It's like telling the other team you're going to throw a screen pass on your next play. See if you can stop it.
So far, no one has.
The 2000 Olympian is 15-0 as a pro with 12 knockouts. He expects to be 16-0 when he comes back from his Dec. 13 televised fight against Donnell “Cadillac” Wiggins (20-2-2, 11 KOs) in Manchester, England. He'll be defending his WBC Continental Americas super-middleweight title on Showtime Championship Boxing starting at 10 p.m. EST and 10 p.m. PST (tape delay).
It will be his second fight overseas, but he doesn't mind traveling.
“It doesn't bother me going into their backyard to fight,” said Lacy, who trains at Winky Wright's gym in St. Petersburg. “When I get in the ring, that's my turf.”
He expects Wiggins to give him his toughest test as a pro.
“He's pretty much a stand-up fighter who is physically strong,” Lacy said. “I look at this as a lesson for me, another stepping stone.”
So far, Lacy has been learning on a fast curve. He's only 2 ? years and 15 fights into this thing and he already holds three titles. Along with the WBC Continental Americas title, he's the USBA and NABA super-middleweight champ. At 26, he's got more belts than the men's department at Macy's.
Managed by Shelly Finkel and trained by Roger Bloodworth, Lacy remains independent of a promoter, though he's working with promoter Gary Shaw on a fight-to-fight basis.
“He's exciting just walking into the ring, because you know anything can happen,” Shaw said. “He's a tremendous fighter and he's got the punching power of Mike Tyson. At the Olympics, they had a punching-power test and Jeff won it, beating out guys in the super-heavyweight division. He just needs to hone his skills.”
Lacy knows it. He blames his loss in the Olympics on his lack of polish. He got as far as he did mostly on raw talent. And that crippling left hook.
“I didn't have a trainer going into the Olympics,” he said. “In the fight I lost, (Russian fighter Gaidarbek Gaidarbekov) held me when he got inside and boxed me on the outside. I didn't know what to do.”
That's where Bloodworth helps. Though Lacy says he's always had a pro style while fighting as an amateur, they don't go 12 rounds in the PAL.
“I've had a little trouble focusing in the later rounds,” said Lacy, who has seldom ventured that far into a fight. “That's something we're working on. I'm learning to stay more focused.”
He hopes 2004 is his big year, the year of his first world title. It doesn't matter to him which title it is or which fighter. He just wants a world title fight.
In the meantime, he's learning what it takes to become a world contender, discovering the little secrets that can make all the difference in the 11th or 12th round.
“I'm learning to sit behind my jab a little more,” he said. “And I'm beginning to use my right hand better. If there's one asset I have that most people don't know about, it's my speed, my delivery. A lot of people underestimate my speed.”
Shaw calls it a “deceiving” speed. “He's learning how to throw his right hand better,” Shaw said. “And when he gets that right hand down pat, along with his left hook.”
He's also a quick learner. In his scheduled pro debut in January 2001, Lacy's opponent got a look at him at the weigh-in and caught a ride back home to Toledo the morning of the fight. Now Lacy leaves his t-shirt on.
His devastating power has already caught a lot of attention. It's one of the reasons Shaw likes to have him on his shows.
“(Fans) don't want to see fighters dance or they'd go to the ballet,” he said. “Jeff doesn't dance.”