TONY OAKEY warned Jeff Lacy: You’ll have to get me early – or I’ll get you.
Portsmouth’s most decorated boxer makes his ring return tonight in Bristol as he meets the American star.
And the Leigh Park Warrior has promised to make his home city proud against the former world champion and Olympic medallist.
Lacy has a fearsome reputation for his knockout power in a career which continued until last year.
Oakey, in contrast, is stepping into the ring after retiring from the pro game six years ago.
But the 40-year-old has dedicated his life full-time to preparing for the Lacy showdown over 10 rounds.
He promised he’s ready for what the man he regards as a future hall-of-famer has to offer.
And Oakey believes, if Lacy doesn’t get him with huge shots early on, he will take him into the deep waters where he flourished in his career.
‘I’ve got myself bang up for this and I’m in the best shape I can be,’ he said.
‘The buzz is there.
‘I’ve been retired for years but stayed in shape and had the charity matches. I’m ready for it.
‘Whatever happens, Jeff Lacy is going to get on that plane knowing he’s been in one hell of a fight.
‘I think he’s underestimating me.
‘But if he doesn’t get me early he is in trouble. Big trouble.
‘He’s come over to make a statement.
‘He’s obviously in tip-top shape and thinking he’s going to blast me out.
‘If he doesn’t blast me out, he’s in trouble, because then it comes down to fitness and a war of attrition – that’s what I’m all about.’
Oakey’s stellar boxing career saw him pick up Commonwealth, British, WBU and Prizefighter titles.
But it came to a lacklustre end when the unfocused light-heavyweight lost to Michael Banbula in 2010.
The Lacy fight gives Oakey the chance to have closure on that performance.
And that has led to him undertaking gruelling preparations which have ensured he’s in top shape for battle.
Oakey added: ‘Physically, I couldn’t have done any better.
‘I’ve been to Scotland twice and I’ve had people down from London and the local boys help me.
‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
‘I’m a fan of boxing so I was a fan of Jeff Lacy’s, especially the way he fights.
‘It’s only ever been about this fight for me.
‘After the Banbula scenario, that was a horrible way to go out after the career I had. It was a boring fight.
‘So this isn’t even about the result.
‘As long as people walk away on Saturday having seen a great match-up I’ll be happy.
‘He is all about excitement – but that’s what I’ve always been about.’