Taylor vs Lacy: Keys To Victory, Four To Explore, and Prediction
15.11.08 - By Vivek Wallace: Tonight's featured showdown on HBO will be as much about individual redemption as it will be a fight for a future in the sport itself as both Jermain Taylor and Jeff Lacy try to bounce back from some very troubling moments in the recent past. For Taylor (27-2, 17KO's), he'll enter the ring for the first time in the post-Pavlik era of his career as he tries to move beyond a string of losses, one in which he was brutally knocked out in the 7th round to lose his divisional straps.
Article posted on 15.11.2008
For Lacy on the other hand, this will be his latest effort to climb out of what is clearly an uphill battle which started on the heels of his humbling loss to Welshman Joe Calzaghe back in 2006. As we get ready for the fight tonight, in an effort to analyze the chances of both men, we narrow the scope and talk keys to victory, "four to explore", and sum it all up with an official prediction..
Jeff Lacy - (Keys To Victory): For Jeff Lacy (24-1, 17KO's), the winning formula for success will be simple, but potentially difficult to execute if his recent ring appearances were any indication. For any fighter who contains such a pure blend of speed and power, one would think all they'd need to do was press the action and let the fight come to them. For Lacy, this won't be so easy. Lacy will need to press the action, but in spurts. In recent fights it appears that stamina has been an issue for some odd reason. Hopefully in his training camp there was less focus on the weights and more focus on his fluidity and ability to re-establish the speedy combinations and powershots he once used. The key for this fight for Jeff Lacy will be to simply relax and execute. The mental aspect is more a challenge to him - or so it appears - than anything or anyone in front of him. Lacy will need to follow the Pavlik plan that worked so well against Taylor by cutting the ring off by using what's known in the fight game as subtraction angles. One other key aspect for this fight as it relates to Lacy will be his need to be more defensive. Lacy will need to be very careful because Taylor can be pretty crafty and is a very offensive fighter. Lacy will need to make sure he NEVER takes more than a shot or two at a time. Too many ripping combinations and an edgy crowd could be enough to tip the scale and send his mindset right back in the slump we've recently seen of him which won't bode well. Finally, Lacy will need to assert his power and impose his will at all cost, particulary when Taylor gets agressive, to send the message that he won't be intimidated in the fight. If Lacy can follow this blueprint victory will be his.
Jermain Taylor - (Keys To Victory): For Taylor, he needs to realize up front that this fight is totally mental against a fighter like Jeff Lacy who has shown very ill effects when in the ring against a dominant fighter who looks to intimidate. Taylor will need to come out from the first bell shooting combinations with power and thrust, giving Lacy alot to think about in the early going. Lacy hasn't done much lately to really draw fear from an opponent, but Taylor will need to beware of the big bombs as well. One in the early going may be alright when his legs are fresh but down the stretch, too many to follow could spell trouble for Taylor. Defense has never been one of Taylor's strong suits and there's no coincidence that Pavlik was able to walk him down the way he did. Taylor will simply need to set the pace and be smart about it to prevent punching himself out like he did against Pavlik in the first fight. If Taylor can set the tempo, impose fear, and make it a brutal, ugly fight, his chances to emerge victorious go from slim to strong, quickly.
FOUR TO EXPLORE: (Things for fight fans to watch for)
Will Lacy lead or follow?: This is gonna be a major sticking point that I predict will directly impact the end results. If Lacy comes out tentative, trying to fill his way through rather than setting a bar of his own from the beginning, it's gonna be a long night (figuratively), or maybe just a short one (literally).
Is Lacy aggressive or passive when the bell rings?: Sounds similar to the first hint to watch for that I listed, but the big difference here, ring intellect. Lacy can lead with smart aggression, or fail by following too aggressively. He will need to set the tempo and impose his will, but he will have to do both in a way that doesn't expose him.
Taylor reading his own press?: Despite the recent losses, many feel that this is Taylor's fight to lose, and that's fine, as long as Taylor doesn't feel that way. Taylor will need to enter the ring like he's the underdog and this is his one and only career shot at a strap. Too much confidence could hurt him in the end.
Can Taylor erase the memories?: It'll be interesting to see how Taylor reacts if or when Lacy does begin to tag him with the kind of powershots that few could walk away from. Will Taylor revert back to the mindset he had when Pavlik did that and press too hard, or will he learn from that example and weather the storm?
LACY/TAYLOR - PREDICTION
When the smoke finally clears and it all boils down, this fight is gonna come down to one thing and one thing only. WHO WANTS IT THE MOST? Both men have recent obstacles to overcome, Lacy's perhaps a little bigger, but none-the-less, they're both on this stage and only one will be able to advance when it's all said and done. You would think that would make one man step up and take it away from the other, but when the mental game is an issue, that very same scenario could force one man (presumably Lacy) to succumb to the pressure and miss the mark yet again. The troubling thing about this fight is that sometimes two men can give it their all and force the fans to walk away with great respect for both of them, win, lose, or draw; but these two guys aren't like that. When they've looked good they've looked good, but when they've looked bad they've looked bad. I never like to count any man out but in watching the two and just understanding the fact that one of them has a strong penchant for having heart and overcoming the odds while the other has failed to shake the webs and shown little recent progress makes this an easy fight to call in my observation. I don't think either man gets knocked out but the winner will be far more than decisive. I hope I'm wrong and wouldn't mind it one bit, but the past sure seems to be telling us the future as it relates to this fight.
JERMAIN TAYLOR - UNANIMOUS DECISION
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org and 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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