Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor - Just What Is It With This Guy?

jermain taylor21.05.07 - By James Slater: Jermain Taylor did it again on Saturday. He boxed negatively, boringly and without authority against a naturally smaller opponent. Against the feather-fisted Cory Spinks, Jermain refused to use his advantages in strength and power and instead allowed the challenger to hit and run his way to a close split decision.

As a result Taylor, now 27-0 (17) came very close to losing his title and unbeaten record. Why he didn’t try and bully his former welterweight/light middleweight of a challenger only he knows. His tactics during the “action” so perplexed his corner-man, Emanuel Steward, that the hall of fame trainer lost his temper and began to both scream and swear at his charge. So exasperated was he at Taylor’s refusal to get rough and tough with a fighter both men knew couldn’t hurt him with his punches. But Taylor, for whatever reasons, either would not or could not do as his coach was pleading.

It’s not the first time Jermain has struggled with a smaller man, either. Both Winky Wright and Kassim Ouma took him the distance in competitive fights. In fact, Jermain has not KO’d a foe since February of 2005. This is not what we expect from the so called world’s best middleweight.

Against Spinks, Taylor looked as bad as he ever has. Stating beforehand he would make a statement, the Arkansas man instead boxed in a fashion that suggested he has regressed as a talent as apposed to improved as one. Just what was the reason for the massive amount of respect he gave to a non-puncher he knew damn well he could have hit and hurt with impunity?

What’s worse, though, is the fact that Taylor actually got mad and became ultra-animated AFTER the fight. In the immediate moments after the bout had ended, and while being interviewed by Larry Merchant, Taylor looked mean and moody, began raising his voice and actually acted like a fighter- something he failed to do when he should have. Let’s face it, the fight with Spinks should have given Taylor the stoppage victory he so wanted and needed to restore his respect among the critics and experts. Before Saturday’s fight more than a few predicted a quick win for Taylor - Eastside’s own Ted “The Bull” Sares, for example. But it didn’t turn out that way. Why? Only the twenty-eight knows for sure. But I’m convinced that had he jumped right on “The Next Generation,” Taylor, a fighter who can punch with authority when he wants to, would have got him out of there.

Instead he boxed with baffling caution. Without a doubt, Jermain’s “Bad Intentions” nickname has to be the most inappropriate one in the sport. Bad intentions to whom? Taylor certainly doesn’t show any towards his opposition, or at least he hasn’t in quite some time. Perhaps the bad intentions are aimed at the fans, with the middleweight champ fully intending to give us a dull and lacklustre fight all along. It sure looks like it at times, doesn’t it?

But then again, in playing devil’s advocate, there is a chance that Taylor is being hard done by. The fact that he’s not scored a KO might just be due to the fact that, in his last five fights, Jermain has faced men that quite simply are rarely, if ever, subject to a KO defeat. Bernard Hopkins has never been stopped, neither has Winky Wright, and both Kassim Ouma and Spinks have each been stopped only one time. So who knows, maybe Taylor has been unlucky enough to have been matched with guys that simply do not succumb to a knockout blow too easily. But this still doesn’t explain away Jermian’s refusal to even try for a stoppage. And in the Spinks fight Taylor sure as hell didn’t look like he was trying all-out to smash his man into unconsciousness. Perhaps it’s simply a case of Jermain being too nice a guy, a guy who lacks that killer instinct. Taylor is indeed a classy and likeable person, unfortunately not when he’s doing his fighting, however.

It sure will be interesting to see how the fans react to his next fight - whoever it’s against. Judging from the number of loud boos Saturday’s fight was subjected to, the fans may well be reluctant to pay hard earned money to see a fighter it is always risky paying to see if an exciting fight is what is wanted. And since when has an exciting fight not been what is wanted?

He undeniably has genuine talent and skill, but Jermain Taylor does not have anything approaching a fan-friendly and aggressive fighting style. At least he hasn’t had one in a long, long time. Just ask Emanuel Steward.

Article posted on 21.05.2007

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