Jermain Taylor's Next Test

Jermain Taylor20.04.09 - By Doveed Linder: This Saturday, former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) will take on the WBC super middleweight champion Carl “The Cobra” Froch (24-0, 19 KOs) at the MGM Grand Theatre at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino arena in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

Jermain Taylor was something of a superstar before he ever captured a major title. Having won a bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games, many considered him one of the best prospects out there. He was already posing in Everlast advertisements and getting a great deal of media attention. His professional career started out on a positive note, as he remained undefeated throughout his rise to the top with convincing wins over William Joppy and Raul Marquez. It wasn’t until his “career defining” victory over Bernard Hopkins in July of 2005 that he became the subject of criticism.

Many will make the argument that when Jermain and Bernard fought the first time, Bernard shouldn’t have lost his titles because Jermain didn’t “take” them from him.. It’s a popular saying in boxing that you have to take the title from the champion, meaning you have to fight an aggressive fight or put on a dominating performance that leaves no questions. But in any other sport when a team wins a championship, the next time they get back on the field and face another team, the score is 0-0 and it’s anyone’s game. Boxing is the only sport where many of the fans feel that all the champion has to do is show up and not lose.

From a judge’s standpoint, it’s his or her job to score each round individually. And when the fight is over, they tally up the scorecards and whoever won the most rounds wins the fight whether they beat the other guy up or not. In the case of Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins, in both their first fight and in the rematch, a strong argument can be made that Jermain won the majority of 12 rounds.

But not every victory in boxing is satisfying to the fans and Taylor vs Hopkins I & II is a perfect example. Jermain Taylor became the undisputed middleweight champion of the world, but he had a lot of critics and his title defenses against Winky Wright, Kassim Ouma, and Cory Spinks only brought more criticism. The fight with Winky Wright resulted in a draw, though many thought that Jermain lost. And when Jermain got by Kasim Ouma and Cory Spinks (both who moved up from 154 pounds), most felt that a true middleweight champion should’ve taken care of business more convincingly.

When Jermain lost his titles to Kelly Pavlik via TKO in the 7th round, it only supported what many of his critics believed – that he didn’t have the goods to be a dominant champion. Jermain followed up the first loss of his career in a rematch with Pavlik and lost a decision. He bounced back from that fight to win a unanimous decision over Jeff Lacy. And for his next fight, he has a shot at a super middleweight title against Carl Froch.

Jermain’s drawback in the ring has always been that he lacks a killer instinct. He’s too much of a gentleman in there. He’s a good athlete who puts forth a great deal of effort and tries his best to follow the technical advice that his coach gives him. But he’s no monster. There’s nothing inside him that wants to brutalize his opponents like a Roberto Duran or Marvin Hagler. And as a result, he leaves a lot of unfinished business.

But Jermain is not a slouch by any means. There are some great fighters out there who would not have not have done as well against Bernard Hopkins or Winky Wright. And his recent win over Jeff Lacy was a decent accomplishment. Lacy’s not one of the top guys in the game, but he’s still a good fighter. And if Jermain had a couple of fights and got his confidence up, it’s not completely out of the question that he couldn’t beat Kelly Pavlik. He might be 0-2 against Pavlik, but he’s still in the man’s league.

The one thing Jermain has going for him is that he’s a hard worker and he hasn’t given up on himself. He has a sense of duty about him and he’ll face whoever his handlers put in front of him. Plus, he has a lot of athletic ability, which is a big advantage in this game.

The fight with Carl Froch will not be an easy night for Jermain. Froch is fairly unknown, but he’s tough, undefeated, and he just won a big fight against Jean Pascal for the vacant WBC super middleweight championship. This is his first chance to step into the spotlight and beat a well known fighter in Jermain and he’s going to come out gunning. If Jermain wants to prove his critics wrong and show that all of his accomplishments were real, he’s gonna have to step it up.

Jermain has been in there with some of the game’s best and it’s likely that Carl Froch won’t show him anything he hasn’t seen before. And if Jermain comes in focused and determined and fights like he has something to prove, he should be able to win this fight and become the next WBC super middleweight champion. But if he takes a passive approach and allows this to be a close fight, it could prove to be a big mistake and he might just find himself on the losing end of a decision or even on the canvas.

Froch vs Taylor will be aired on Showtime at 9pm ET/PT.

Article posted on 20.04.2009

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