tampabay.com

Chuckle far from laughing matter

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published March 4, 2006


MANCHESTER, England - Robin Reid has been quoted extensively in British papers as picking Joe Calzaghe to win today's fight.

Friday, he changed his mind. Twice.

First, he picked Jeff Lacy by a late stoppage. After the weigh-in, Reid picked Lacy, but more emphatically.

"By the sixth round," he said.

The reason? The former WBC super-middleweight champ, who has lost to both fighters, said he believes Calzaghe cracked when he laughed at Lacy during the final staredown.

"I know Joe Calzaghe," Reid said. "That was a nervous laugh."

For most fighters, the final staredown is often an indicator of your readiness to fight and a good judge of your opponent's confidence.

Lacy scowled; Calzaghe laughed.

"I always go by the head-to-head of the final day of the weigh-in because that's the last time you see each other before the fight," said Reid, who was TKO'd by Lacy last year in Tampa.

"Personally, you make weight and (the) rest of it, the fun and games and calling names, that's over. I think that eyeball-to-eyeball stareout tells you a lot. When you're staring in your opponent's eye, it doesn't matter what anyone else says, you could crack a joke or tickle me under the arms or whatever, you couldn't get a smile out of me.

"I think he (cracked). Joe's nervous."

ALMOST FAMOUS: If Omar Sheika had a dime for every time someone referenced his fight with Lacy (a 12-round loss) as a sign of the St. Petersburg fighter's weaknesses, he'd never have to fight again.

Calzaghe and his backers have referenced Sheika dozens of times this week, because Calzaghe destroyed him in five rounds.

But like Reid, Sheika is picking Lacy.

"I believe Lacy will beat him, but if Calzaghe stays away from Lacy, boxes him and uses his jab, it could be a tough fight for Lacy. Trading with Lacy is not a smart fight for Calzaghe."

Sheika did add a disclaimer: Lacy will have to win by KO.

"I'd be shocked," he said, "if Lacy won a decision there."

PERFECT WEIGHT: Lacy weighed 167 pounds (or 11 stone, 13 pounds) at Friday's weigh-in, right where strength coach Darryl Hudson expected him to be.

Hudson said Lacy was around 175 four days ago, and is right on target.

Calzaghe weighed 168, or 12 stone.

STILL SURLY: Lacy growled at WBA champion Mikkel Kessler, whose manager tried to hound the IBF champion for a fight if he beats Calzaghe.

Lacy also shoved away a cameraman who asked about Kessler.

LAST CALL: The 2 a.m. local starting time doesn't mean a batch of rowdy drunken fans will be rolling in from the nearest pub. Promoter Frank Warren said doors will be closed at 11 p.m. to prevent a "free-for-all."