The Winky Wright v. Ike Quartey fight in Tampa was supposed to be the culmination of years of negotiations and ranking that finally brought together two of boxing's best (albeit aging) middleweights. It was a fine fight that illustrated the importance of timing and defense, but it wasn't the "battle" fans of the lighter classes had hoped for, and it left Wright coming short on what he'd hoped would be confirmation of his ability as a power hitter. Showing that power is essential for an aging middleweight who must prove he can transition from boxer to slugger if he wants to continue getting big ticket fights. It didn't happen and Wright's future is in doubt so it's a good thing he's following Oscar De La Hoya into the promotion game. But it was the undercard that proved to give the best bang for the buck.
First, a few words on my favorite sports commentators: Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant. Lampley is clearly the Professional with overwhelmingly knowledgeable and concise reporting, but it is Merchant who is the Juice. His drunken ramblings are bite-sized nuggets of pugilistic poetry. He is the Flava Flav to Lampley's Chuck D. God bless them both.
Facing a hometown crowd, former IBF/WBO Super Middleweight Champion, Leff "Left Hook" Lacy (22-1, 17 KO's) faced Vitali Tsypko (17-2, 10 KO's) from the Ukraine. Coming out quick with the perfect offense against a tall southpaw by attacking with quick right-hand leads, Lacy made his point early on by standing Tsypko up early in the second round.
Tsypko's sharp facial features leave him open to injuries that bely his good defensive skills and Saturday's fight saw a repeat of their first matchup with an accidental headbutt from Lacy opening a gash under the Ukrainian's left eye, reminiscent to the cut that led to a no-contest stoppage in June 2004. Responding with overhand counters to his opponent's jabs, Tsypko assisted Lacy in putting on an educational display of classic offense-defense tactics.
The 5th round saw the best right hand from Lacy in the fight — make that TWO right hands!! — but Tsypko proved his mettle and withstood the best shots of the night, which probably proved to Lacy that he couldn't knock him out.
Proving he's not just a guy with a good chin, Tsypko rocked Lacy in the 8th round and had he taken advantage of it, could have knocked out the smaller fighter. The fact that he didn't leads one to question whether he has the instinct to follow-up on a dazed opponent or whether he has the power to follow-up with a killer punch.
Coming into the 10th and final round trailing on Harold Lederman's cards, Tsypko went toe-to-toe with Lacy in a last flurry but came up short losing by majority decision (95-95, 96-94, 96-94) that misrepresents the events of the fight. A miscalled knock down early in the fight sealed Tsypko's fate and prompted Lampley and Merchant to question why boxing has yet to implement an instant replay protocol like every other major sport in America.
I wouldn't mind a replay of the whole fight