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Lacy hopes win boosts his ranking

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 22, 2003

Jeff Lacy wants to know -- what's your next question?

When he opened his career with four first-round knockouts, there was a call for tougher opposition.

When he stepped up to that challenge and produced more knockouts, some wondered if the St. Petersburg native with the thunderous left hook could go the distance if needed.

When he went 12 rounds with Ross Thompson in November and won a unanimous decision, the question was ... well, what is the question?

"There's been a lot of questions, and I think I've answered them all for now," Lacy said from Memphis, where he has been preparing for tonight's fight against James Crawford, a 33-year-old with a 36-3-2 record and 15 knockouts.

Tonight's fight is on the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Clifford Etienne heavyweight fight. Lacy, 25, is just happy to be fighting, considering the on-and-off-and-on-again nature of the Showtime card. He said he ignored the newspapers and sideshow this week, even saying Wednesday: "I don't even know ... is the fight on?"

As usual, Lacy is as fit as can be. The chiseled former Olympian will try to win the vacant USBA super-middleweight title tonight, if not for the thrill of owning a belt than for what it means.

Lacy said if he wins, the IBF will install him in the top 5 of its rankings. Right now, the division's higher-rated fighters have nothing to gain by taking on Lacy; but at No. 5, he will become attractive bait for those trying to climb.

"We're trying to get into that No. 1 position," Lacy said. "Just being in the top 5 could get me a title shot by the end of this year or early next. It's going to happen."

Lacy's win over Thompson earned him the WBC Continental Americas title. It was only the second of his 12 fights (all wins) that went the distance. His 10 KOs had gone only a combined 16 rounds.

"I showed I can fight 12 rounds and look good doing it," Lacy said. "I learned some important things in that fight.

"I'll say this, it wasn't as tough as everyone made it out to be (going 12 rounds). I wasn't exhausted. I felt it was easy."

Lacy said Crawford, who was knocked out by Sven Ottke when he fought for the IBF title in 2001, is a slick fighter, but he shouldn't pose much of a problem for Lacy.

"He'll come out and try to box me," Lacy said. "It won't work, and his game plan will be to go to game plan B."

APPOINTMENT RAISES EYEBROWS: Sen. John McCain asked Nevada's governor to look into possible conflict of interest violations in the appointment of the son of a major promoter to a senior position on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. McCain, R-Ariz., chairs the Senate Commerce Committee. In question, McCain said, is the decision by commission chairman Luther Mack to elevate Tony Alamo Jr., a commission member, to vice chairman. Alamo is the son of Tony Alamo Sr., a senior vice president at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

EX-CHAMP PAZ ARRESTED: Former champion Vinnie Paz, formerly known as Vinny Pazienza, was arrested on charges of passing bad checks in Las Vegas. He was the IBF lightweight champion in 1987-88 and the WBA super welterweight champion in '91.

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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