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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Lacy loses belt, mark in a rout
Joe Calzaghe punishes St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy, taking away his world title and his undefeated record.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published March 5, 2006
MANCHESTER, England - As St. Petersburg's Jeff Lacy took a pounding at the hands of Joe Calzaghe, adviser Jim Wilkes looked at trainer Dan Birmingham in the final round with a desperate expression that begged him to throw in the towel.
Promoter Gary Shaw also shouted at Birmingham, apparently for the same reason.
The towel never came and, desite being knocked down in the 12th and final round, Lacy endured.
But his IBF super-middleweight title is gone after Saturday's dismantling by WBO champ Calzaghe, who won a unanimous decision before close to 17,000 at the Manchester Evening News Arena.
Calzaghe won every round. Will he finally get the respect he says he deserves?
Two judges scored it 119-107, while a third had it 119-105, the most lopsided victory in an unblemished 41-0 career. The Times had it 118-107.
"His speed threw me off a little bit," Lacy said. "I couldn't get in my rhythm. It was definitely a learning experience."
"Jeff just didn't do anything we asked him to do," Birmingham said. "We had a Plan A and a Plan B but there's nothing you can do when your fighter won't listen to you."
With the best performance of his career, Calzaghe remained boxing's longest reigning champion and halted the Lacy Express.
In the lead-up to the fight, even the British media seemed more enamored of Lacy, 28, who was fast-tracked for stardom with a brawling style as well as the backing of Showtime.
But Calzaghe apparently tired of all the questions the past few years about his heart and quality of competition, delivering as savage a beating as he has ever turned in and shocking even the doubting British media.
"It was total focus and dedication and determination," Calzaghe said. "I said for years I should be ranked in (the) top 10 pound-for-pound. I needed a fight like Jeff Lacy. The better my opponent, the better my performance."
It was brilliant Saturday, a fight reminiscent of Winky Wright's whitewash last year of the harder-hitting Felix Trinidad.
But even Trinidad didn't take the punishment Lacy did. Calzaghe had his way from the start, proving far faster and better equipped to handle pressure than most thought.
Though he said he broke his left hand in the eighth or ninth round, Calzaghe rocked Lacy in almost every round.
A bloodied Lacy went into the final round needing a knockout. He could never get close enough to Calzaghe to get off his vaunted power shots, as the Welshman continually picked them off and countered with combinations of five, six and seven punches.
Strangely, Lacy seemed to abandon all pretense of defense and jabbing in thinking he could take Calzaghe out with one punch. Calzaghe answered every charge with a combination. Lacy kept coming forward, but never could find the range or an angle.
In the fourth round, Lacy was cut near his right eye, and in the fifth he was staggered by a straight right and began bleeding from his nose.
Lacy later took stitches above both eyes and did not make the postfight news conference.
So confident was Calzaghe that he taunted Lacy at various points, even dropping his hands in the ring. By the seventh round, Lacy was breathing heavily.
The loss was his first since the 2000 Olympics, and dropped his professional mark to 21-1.
Calzaghe, 33, won his WBO belt in 1997, but never sought another until accepting Lacy's challenge. Injuries limited him as well, killing off some important bouts and limiting him to five fights the past three years.
But his reluctance to fight away from home damaged his reputation, and Lacy came to England hoping to obliterate it.
Instead, that reputation is enhanced with the addition of Lacy's belt and even bigger fights on the horizon.