After capturing the IBF super middleweight title with a style that many compared to Mike Tyson-lite, Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy soon discovered that invisible potholes exist for anyone who travels that road.
The biggest pothole proved to be Wales.
After losing badly to agile boxer Joe Calzaghe, then injuring his shoulder in subsequent fights, the muscular and speedy Lacy decided to take a step back, several years back, to a period when the art of boxing meant something to him.
“People are always getting so tied up in knockouts,” said Lacy (23-1, 17 KOs), who includes himself as one of those knockout lovers. “But I can do both, I can box too.”
The former super middleweight champion Lacy returns to California on his quest to become world champion again and he faces Colombia’s dangerous knockout machine Epifanio Mendoza (28-5-1, 24 KOs) on Wednesday July 23, at the Morongo Casino. It’s the first collaboration with his new promoter Golden Boy Promotions.
“Epifanio Mendoza, I know he’s coming to fight,” said Lacy. “He’s a guy who likes to engage in fighting, not trying to box to win.”
Suddenly the super middleweight division is heating up, with the recent addition of Jermain Taylor and possibly Kelly Pavlik. But first, Lacy must pass by Mendoza.
“I’m the one with the name in this fight. Basically I’m putting it all on the line against this guy,” said Lacy, who acknowledges it’s a dangerous opponent he faces. “It’s do or die for him and for me too.”
Lacy says losing the title can change a lot of things, including a fighting style. That’s why he’s returning to a former trainer, Roger Bloodworth, to rekindle his early pro style.
Bloodworth, who trained Lacy coming out of the 2000 Olympics, feels that Lacy became addicted to knocking people senseless and because of early success, it led to disaster against Calzaghe.
“He wanted to knock him (Calzaghe) out spectacularly,” said Bloodworth of Lacy. “Instead of setting him up, he went straight forward.”
The veteran trainer, who also guides Joel Casamayor and David Tua, says that Lacy has the boxing tools to regain the world title but must refine the boxing skills that enabled him to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2000.
“It’s a step-by-step process,” Bloodworth says. “Of course it’s not as bad as if you’re starting in the beginning.”
Lacy has an abundance of confidence, especially now with Golden Boy Promotions backing him.
“I’m with a high-powered promotion company so that I can become a two or three-time world champion,” said Lacy. “I come in with the mentality of a killer.”
She may not pack the power of a Jeff Lacy, but Kaliesha “Wild Wild” West loves to fight.
Ever since she first began at age 12, the Southern California daughter of a professional prizefighter has embarked on a mission to become one of the best in the world. But it’s not always an easy road for female prizefighters.
West was scheduled to face a tough test against Cynthia Talmadge (2-1), an amateur star from Northern California, but that fighter was unable to pass an eye exam and was scratched from the card by the California State Athletic Commission.
A day before the fight Elizabeth Cervantes was the only female boxer willing to step in the ring against the high-flying West.
West is eager for the showdown and to fight on a card that features world-class fighters such as Lacy, Mendoza and several undefeated youngsters.
“This is the best fight card I’ve ever been on,” said the always energetic West. “I can’t wait.”
The 20-year-old West is ranked number eight by the IFBA.
Aside from Lacy on the main event, number five-ranked lightweight contender Jose Armando Santa Cruz is scheduled to fight Cristian Favela in an eight round bout.
Also on the card will be undefeated boxers Juan Carlos Velasquez, Daniel Jacobs, Carlos Velasquez, and Seth Mitchell.
For ticket information call (800) 252-4499.
Corona fight card
Tijuana’s Juan Burgos (18-0, 14 KOs) meets Miami’s Andres Ledesma in a featherweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds at Omega Products International in Corona on Friday July 25. The fight card is staged by Thompson Boxing Promotions.
It was nearly a year ago that Burgos knocked out Adam Carrera at the same boxing site. He’s looking to establish himself as yet another featherweight bomber from Mexico.
Ledesma has lost nine of his last 10 bouts, but that one fight he won was a huge upset over New York’s Gary Stark Jr. by knockout. He does have pop in his fists.
Also on the fight card will be undefeated Hector Serrano, whose fight a year ago with Anthony Ramos at Soboba Casino was one of the most brutal fights in the last 10 years. The tall junior welterweight faces Lester Balmores (3-8-1) in a six round bout.
For tickets and information call (714) 935-0900.
Fights on television
Wed. ESPN2, 6 p.m. Jeff Lacy (23-1) vs. Epifanio Mendoza (28-5-1).
Fri. ESPN2, 6 p.m., Raymond Joval (37-4) vs. James McGirt Jr. (18-1)
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Jesus Karass Soto (20-3-3) vs. David Estrada (22-4).
Fri. Telemundo, 11:30 p.m., Antonio Diaz (42-5-1) vs. Felix Flores (22-6).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Miguel Cotto (32-0) vs. Antonio Margarito (36-5); Giovanni Segura (19-0-1) vs. Cesar Canchila (26-1).