TAYLOR vs WRIGHT: Bad Intentions Or Bad Choice In Opponent?

21.02.06 - BY JUSTIN HACKMAN - photo by Wray Edwards: June 17th will mark the day of another future gift the boxing world has in store for us. We will be blessed with a very intriguing match-up. There have been rumors circulating around this potential fight since before November of last year. The fight in question of course is Jermain Taylor versus Winky Wright. On one hand we have a fighter coming off two consecutive wins over the seemingly indestructible former pound-for-pound king, Bernard Hopkins, in Jermain Taylor. On the other hand, there is Winky Wright: a fighter widely recognized as having secured the second spot atop the current pound-for-pound list, behind only the great Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Taylor's last two wins, both coming against Hopkins, consisted of 24 rounds of tentativeness and lack of effective aggression. The first 12 rounds Taylor fired and missed numerous unnecessary right hands which in turned wasted priceless energy. This lackluster performance led many to believe he was gifted the decision. In the rematch, Taylor learned in large part from his rookie mistakes the first time around, and won a more convincing, yet still very close unanimous decision..

While Wright's overall career record is astonishing at 50-3, his resume just over the past two years is particularly impressive as it includes two wins over Shane Mosley, and a dominant thrashing of future Hall-of-Famer Felix Trinidad. This match which boasted two championship caliber fighters, produced the most lopsided blow-out in recent memory as Wright's technical brilliance served as a 45-minute ushering into retirement for Trinidad. Though an argument could be made that had Trinidad not moved in the wrong direction against the south paw, Wright, for all 12 rounds the fight may have been closer. Yet with the size and defensive tools possessed by Wright, a loss for Trinidad was either way inevitable.

All logic points to Wright as the clear victor in this early summer match-up based on the evidence given to us previously by both fighters in their most recent, most meaningful bouts. However, as alluded to before, Bernard Hopkins was 40 years old when he fought Taylor. There are two schools of thought surrounding this fact. First, it could prove that Taylor is not the fighter that he appeared to be as he is seemingly in his prime and could barely squeak by this boxing fossil. Maybe. But the second school of thought is that Hopkins being 40 and at that point still middleweight king was just a testament to how good he truly was, thus making his age his strength. This logic makes more sense, as the Taylor which faced Hopkins appeared to be a mere amateur compared to the fighter he was for the first 23 fights of his career in which Taylor thoroughly dominated every one of his opponents with a laser-like jab and bone-shattering right hand. So unless Taylor got bad overnight, Hopkins surely did not get old overnight. Let us not allow Hopkins' mastery to blur the force that Taylor proved he is on his road to the title.

Clearly, this is a case of the two best middleweights in the world fighting each other. However, we the fans know what we will get from Wright: a tight defensive guard, a pin-point jab, and incredibly accurate straight left counter. With Taylor still in the process of proving himself, we are not quite sure what to expect from the 2000 Olympian. Will we see the Jermain Taylor that convincingly earned the title of "Heir Apparent" before he dethroned Hopkins? Or will we see the Taylor that tamely took the title of Middleweight Champion? The outcome rests on Taylor's shoulders. If Taylor shows up reminiscent of the fighter who faced Hopkins, allowing himself to become frustrated with Wright's technical soundness, Wright will find himself sitting on the middleweight throne. However, if Taylor can impose his size, improvise with his athleticism, slow Wright down with his powerful hooks to the body, and gain control with his pounding jab, Taylor will add another notch to his young list of title defenses. It's up to Jermain Taylor. How will the champion show up on the night of June 17th?

Article posted on 21.02.2006

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