Hard-slugging Lacy-Pemberton bout speaks for itself
Posted: Friday November 4, 2005 1:25PM; Updated: Friday November 4, 2005 3:20PM
IBF super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy (right) brings a 20-0 record (16 KO's) into Saturday's bout with Scott Pemberton.
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Sometimes a fight is just a fight.
Anyone who reports on boxing for the mainstream press is all too familiar with the editorial back-and-forth that goes on whenever coverage of an upcoming bout is discussed. It is as predictable -- and pointless -- as a square dance.
What does this bout mean? What does it say about the state of boxing? Does the featured fighter have "crossover" appeal?
Sometimes there is a straight-faced answer to give ("Well, yes, Oscar De La Hoya, you see, represents the expanding demographic base of Latino consumers"). But sometimes, as I say, a fight is just a fight. And, just as every football game doesn't have to define the state of the NFL, or Randy Johnson's next start doesn't have to be part of a bigger package about the place of lefthanders in 21st-century America, that should be enough.
One afternoon when I was in ninth grade, two of my fellow students, a beefy, red-haired Irish kid named Jim Hanlon and a rangy black kid named Greg Williams, decided to have a boxing match for the championship of Hanley Junior High -- three rounds, bare-fisted, in the boys' locker room. Word went around the school in minutes, bets were made and a crowd gathered.
An enterprising editor might have seen in that bout -- waged in a crude ring formed by squared-off benches and surrounded by hollering boys -- the opportunity for a "big-picture" piece, maybe even a package on race, young manhood and the failures of the public-school system to shield students from violence (in fact, I'm pitching a 7,500-word essay to The New Yorker right now!). Me? I just wanted to see if Jim Hanlon could beat up Greg Williams.
That's pretty much how I'm approaching Saturday night's super middleweight bout between undefeated IBF champion Jeff Lacy and hard-punching (albeit 38-year-old) Scott Pemberton. The fight, which will be held at Caesars Tahoe, is being shown on Showtime. Lacy (20-0, with 16 KOs) was supposed to be facing undefeated WBO champ Joe Calzaghe (40-0, 31 KOs) of Wales, in what would have been a far more marketable matchup, but negotiations fell apart a while ago and Lacy was left with Pemberton.
Fine with me. I'm eager to see Lacy, the former U.S. Olympian out of St. Petersburg, Fla. -- who at 28, has shown himself to be an extraordinarily strong super middleweight, but has yet to be really extended -- against a guy who can test his chin.