Shannan Taylor: "I'm ready to make a statement"

21.11.05 - By Matt Clark: The rags-to-riches story is one that is all too familiar in the sport of boxing. The legend of a fighter rising above the odds and on to a better way of life, is as old as the sport itself. Just as frequently, the same pugilist gets caught up in the pizzazz of living, spending and partying big, and the fall is as hard to take as a left hook to the jaw. But when Australian Middleweight Shannan Taylor (42-3-2, 28 KOís) faces off against IBO champion Ray Joval on November 27th in Melbourne, a new chapter may well be added.

Taylor, 33, has seen it all before. He climbed as high as number two contender for the Welterweight championship in early 2001. Then faced the legendary title holder ďSugarĒ Shane Mosley and was defeated in six rounds. But what many at the time didnít know was that the fall had already begun. The ďBulli BlasterĒ was already a user of cocaine, a drug whose clutches he wouldnít be able to escape until he was defeated two further occasions.

Like so many before him, Taylor found a saviour in the form of religion. He gradually climbed his way out of the abyss that threatened to consume not only his talent, but his life.

ďI was flying once, I was waiting to fight the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Mosley, but I got off track. But I came clean, admitted my mistakes, and found strength through going to church and from the man upstairs. I managed to overcome my personal demons.Ē

If this was the typical fight-game film, the movie would end here. The credits would roll and Shannan Taylor would be just like so many tough boxers before him. But Taylor has defied the odds for a second time.

Instead of being yet another ďwhat could have been story,Ē Taylor began to get his life in order. Through the help of good friend and businessman Tony Carradona, he began to climb back up the rankings. The bout at the Vodafone Arena is an indication to Taylorís ambition to climb back towards the highest peaks in the sport.

ďMy partner Bec and my daughter Nathalia are an inspiration. So is my son Rush, who will be born a week and a half after the fight. But most of all, this fight is for me. Iíve been boxing along for great money. Iím the one who has moved up in weight. Iím the one who, along with the help of Phil Austin (IBO official), has put the fight together. I want this more than anything.Ē

Taylor said he hasnít trained this well since his early years in the punch-for-pay ranks. ďIím absolutely flying in the gym. I feel like Iím eight years younger than what I am! I want to be the first to knock out Ray Joval. I want to finish 2005 with a world title and a new son!

Taylor describes Joval (34-4, 15 KOís) as a worthy opponent. ďHeís a top fighter and he has a great work rate. Iíve got a few of his fights on tape. In fact, Iím flying down to Melbourne on Tuesday and Iím going to team up with Barry Michael (former world champion) and heíll identify some things I can work on. Iíll leave no stone unturned.Ē

After such a thorough preparation, confidence is not something that is lacking in Taylorís persona. ďI see myself busting Ray Joval up round by round. Using my jab and punishing him. Whether he falls in round one, halfway during the fight, or hears the final bell, he will be getting a good hiding.

He will be punished everywhere but the soles of his feel and the roof of his mouth! I canít wait for the fight. Iíd like to thank my fans for sticking by me after all these years. Iíve been truly blessed. Iíve come full circle and itís time to make a statement.Ē

The orthodox fighter believes he can finally accomplish what so many predicted him to do at the outset of his professional career, and march towards to the top of the boxing world. Maybe, just maybe, Shannan Taylor can add another chapter to what has already been an intriguing story.

Article posted on 21.11.2005

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