R-E-S-P-E-C-T Just a little bit: Jermain Taylor deserves more than he gets

By Phil Santos – - No chance. Essentially that is what former Middleweight champion Jermain Taylor has been given in his rematch against current top dog Kelly Pavlik. Since besting future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins twice and fighting Winky Wright to a draw Taylor has seen his stock plummet. Fairly or not Taylor has faced plenty of criticism. He defended his crown against blown up Welterweights in Cory Spinks and Kassim Ouma and to make matters worse he was less than impressive in doing so..

jermain taylorSo has Jermain Taylor suddenly become a sub par fighter? Have his skills, power and/or determination eroded to the point where he can no longer contend with the games elite? I for one believe that Taylor is far from done as a championship caliber fighter. Can he beat Kelly Pavlik? Yes, I think he can. Will he? Uhhhh…. that’s a tough one. I have to stick to my guns and say that Kelly Pavlik will prevail in the rematch. However I don’t see the one sided trouncing that many are predicting.

While realizing that it is extremely difficult to rebound from a knockout loss, much less the brutal kayo Taylor suffered at the hands of Kelly Pavlik; Taylor had Pavlik in serious trouble and nearly stopped him in the 2nd round. Had someone other than Steve Smoger been the man in charge the fight may well have been stopped right then and there. Luckily for fight fans the action ensued. Not only did Taylor floor Pavlik early on but he also held a sizable lead on all three judges cards, 59-54 and 58-55(2), at the time of the stoppage.

Jermain Taylor has to be given more than just a punchers chance. Both Taylor and Pavlik are tall, strong Middleweights who will meet at a catch weight of 166 this time around. They are two very evenly matched fighters with the ability to end the others night early at any point in the bout. Pavlik may hold the preverbal “mental edge” having stopped Taylor the last time out but physically these two match up very well. The first fight was a lot closer than some choose to remember and the second should be more of the same.

Sure conventional wisdom says Kelly Pavlik should win, I can’t argue with that, and deservedly he will be the favorite. But Jermain Taylor deserves more respect than he is being given by fight fans and the media. So quickly we forget that this kid was once thought to be the future. Before the Ouma and Spinks disappointments Jermain Taylor battled Winky, B-Hop (2), Daniel Edouard, William Joppy and Raul Marquez. Over that six fight stretch his opponents had a combined record of 227-13-5. Not to shabby.

Yeah, I think there were bigger and better fights out there for Taylor than Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks following his draw with Winky. And I make no excuses for him, those were undoubtedly two very poor decisions, but the criticism he faced for the selection of two opponents was so intense that it has clearly skewed public perception of the kind of fighter he really is. Taylor is the second best Middleweight in the world right now despite what any organization or magazine has to say. This fight, while it isn’t for any title, means more to Taylor’s career at this point than any championship belt ever could. It means a chance for redemption, a chance to shut the skeptics up.

Whether you like Jermain Taylor or not only ignorance could ignore the fact that he has been a very good fighter for the last 3-4 years. Yeah, Yeah I can hear it now, “He lost that fight with Winky” and “The Hopkins fights were bullshit” well my friends that is what I like to call loser talk. Give Jermain Taylor some credit. Come February 16th expect a good fight because win or lose Taylor and Pavlik will go balls to the wall. There will be no losers in the ring on that night just two champions, one former and one current but both champions none the less.

Article posted on 01.02.2008

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