Looking like anything but cordial, Taylor showed a stiff jab and landed hard rights and uppercuts to make a victorious debut at super middleweight.
"This was a comeback fight,'' says Taylor, the former middleweight champion who hadn't fought in nine months -- the longest layoff of his career -- since losing for the second time in a row against Kelly Pavlik.
"I took a long layoff, but I knew Jeff was going to lunge with his punches and all I had to do was just box him and fight my fight."
Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) appeared well-suited to fighting with the additional eight pounds, while Lacy (24-2, 17 KOs), who once was considered the top dog of the 168-pound division, sustained a lopsided defeat not quite as bad as two years ago when Joe Calzaghe virtually shut him out in a super middleweight title unification bout.
Both Taylor and Lacy hoped to use the HBO-televised bout in Nashville as a steppingstone toward rejuvenating their careers, but Taylor was the aggressor from the start and won easily by scores of 119-109 on two judges cards and 118-110 on the third.
"I've sparred with him enough to know him,'' says Taylor, who rocked Lacy with a right hand in the third round and stunned him with an uppercut in the seventh round. But Taylor couldn't put the former champion from St. Petersburg, Fla. on the canvas.
Lacy, however, did manage to knock Taylor off his feet with an overhand right in the fifth round but wasn't given credit by the referee for a knockdown.
"The referee did a great job of not calling a knockdown,'' Taylor said. "It was a slip. He (Lacy) stepped on my toe and I slipped."
Taylor, who hails from Little Rock, intends to remain fighting at 168 for the foreseeable future. The victory made him the WBC's No. 1 super middleweight mandatory contender.
"It's all about getting your confidence back up,'' Taylor said. "The more fights you win, the more confidence you get. I feel like this fight was a confidence builder. Jeff is the hardest-hitting guy I know. If I can take his punches, I know I've still got it."
Taylor was asked about a possible fight against Calzaghe, the long-time super middleweight champion who said he plans to retire but may be enticed to stick around after defending the light heavyweight crown by beating Roy Jones Jr. on the heels of defeating Bernard Hopkins.
"I'm on the comeback, so I'll fight whoever,'' Taylor said. "If they put Joe in there next, then it will be Joe."