Lacy to miss at least a year after surgery

Updated: December 5, 2006, 11:08 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Jeff Lacy's career is in jeopardy after the former super middleweight titleholder suffered a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder during last Saturday's majority decision victory against Vitali Tsypko.

"I think Jeff has enough fire that when he heals, he'll be back. He's happy he won the fight, and he wants to get back in the ring bad, but he's depressed because he knows he will have to wait again."
-- Jim Wilkes, Lacy's adviser

The injury, first reported by the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, Lacy's hometown newspaper, will require surgery. Lacy, 29, is expected to be out of action for at least a year.

Lacy, ironically nicknamed "Left Hook" because it's his money punch, suffered the injury in the second round of his rematch with Tsypko at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa. The bout was the co-feature on the card topped by Lacy pal Winky Wright's unanimous decision win against Ike Quartey.

"It's a bad injury," Jim Wilkes, Lacy's adviser, told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "It could be career threatening, but we certainly hope it isn't. No one can believe Jeff was even able to finish the fight. It's amazing that he did."

Lacy (22-1, 17 KOs), a 2000 U.S. Olympian, was coming off a nine-month layoff. He hadn't fought since March, when Joe Calzaghe pounded him for 12 rounds en route to a dominating unanimous decision in their 168-pound title unification match.

Lacy's struggles against Tsypko -- whom many felt won the fight -- opened Lacy to questions about whether he had fully recovered from the beating Calzaghe gave him. Now, it is obvious that his shoulder injury had an impact on his performance.

After the second round, Lacy told trainer Dan Birmingham that he pulled something in his shoulder.

"Jeff was absolutely brilliant those first two rounds, but then he threw his shoulder out," Birmingham told the St. Petersburg Times. "He came back after the second and third rounds and said, 'It's out of socket. I can't use it.' It's hard fighting with one arm, but Jeff kept punching, and he won the fight. He showed a lot of guts fighting with one arm."

Wilkes said Lacy was seeing a shoulder specialist on Tuesday and that surgery would take place this week.

"They want to schedule it as quickly as possible while it is still a fresh tear," Wilkes said. "They think it's a full thickness tear of the tendon and they also think part of the muscle is torn, which makes it an even worse injury. They'll look to do the arthroscopic surgery, but they'll probably have to open the shoulder up in full. The doctor said he doesn't know how he fought with such a bad injury."

Wilkes said Lacy has been on painkillers since the fight because it is an incredibly painful injury, but that he also was hungry to get back in the ring as soon as he heals.

"I think Jeff has enough fire that when he heals, he'll be back," Wilkes said. "He's happy he won the fight, and he wants to get back in the ring bad, but he's depressed because he knows he will have to wait again."

Senior writer Dan Rafael covers Boxing for ESPN.com.