The smile of Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy has unofficially been missing these past few days. Sure, there have been rare sightings of an occasional grin, maybe a quick laugh. But for the most part, Lacy has put away the affable demeanor that always marked him as one of boxing’s good guys.
Two days before his scheduled IBF super-middleweight title defense against Robin “The Grim Reaper” Reid (38-4-1, 27 KOs), Lacy was still patiently answering the same tired questions, still taking time to sign autographs, shake hands, sell the show.
But the wide Lacy smile had all but disappeared. Went into seclusion for a few days.
And that’s the way it should be.
Going into tonight’s fight on SHOWTIME at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Lacy appears to have that edginess that most fighters feed on as they head into a big showdown.
“It’s been long time coming,” Lacy said at the final press conference on Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Tampa. “I’m exhausted from all the talk. I’m just a fighter ready to fight. I’m going to go out and do my thing.”
For the first time in his pro career, Lacy (19-0, 15 KOs), who trains in St. Petersburg, is going to be doing his thing in front of a home crowd. And that’s where the tired questions started two months ago. What does it mean to Lacy to fight at home?
It means everything to him. It also means he had to get away from the hundreds of family and friends calling him for tickets.
And is there more pressure fighting at home, more pressure to do well? Naw. Lacy said his style is one of aggression and that’s what the hometown people are paying to see. It’s what they cheer for.
“I’m just ready to fight,” he said at the press conference. “That’s all I have to say.”
It was more than Reid had to say. The former WBC super-middleweight champ from Runcorn, England sat quietly at the front table and politely declined to speak to the room. But he did meet with the media on a one-on-one basis later on.
According to Reid, his biggest complaint going into this fight has been the lack of respect he’s been shown. It didn’t help his mood any when promoter Gary Shaw, standing at the podium on Thursday, presented Reid with a T-shirt reading, “I went all the way to America and all I got was knocked out by Jeff Lacy.”
Reid smiled, but you could see it didn’t go down well. Shaw thanked him for being such a good sport, though it came across as a backhanded compliment.
“They say they respect me,” Reid said after the press conference. “And then [Shaw] spoils everything by handing me a T-shirt that says ‘I came to America and got knocked out by Jeff Lacy,’ or whatever it says. All that does is tell me they do not respect me.”
Reid said maybe they did it just to get under his skin. If they did, it looks like it worked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “But I have been down this road before and know enough not to take it personally. Joe Calzaghe (the WBO champ) was saying he was going to knock me out in three rounds, and we all know what happened in that fight (Calzaghe won a split decision). This kind of stuff only makes me want to fight harder than I had already planned.”
So far in his 12-year career, Reid has fought in places like Ireland, Germany, Scotland, Wales, Italy and even Texas. So he’s used to being the bad guy. Fighting on Lacy’s turf doesn’t faze him. On top of that, he’s never been knocked off his feet in his 43 pro fights. He expects to wake up Sunday morning with that string at 44 fights.
“I am in great shape,” he said. “And I’m excited about the fight. I’m anxious to do what I was born to do.”