Jermain Taylor defeated Sam Soliman on Wednesday night in Biloxi, Mississippi, taking home a middleweight title strap in a fight which headlined a special mid-week ESPN2 boxing telecast. The former undisputed Middleweight kingpin is once again a titleholder in the division.
He knocked down Soliman four times en route to a wide Unanimous Decision victory, with scores of 116-111, 115-109 and 116-109. On the surface, it looks like a dominant return to championship stature. He was aided though by an injury to Soliman’s knee in the middle rounds which left him hobbled, both unable to generate effective offense or to effectively maneuver out of harm’s way.
Taylor, who long ago ended the reign of Bernard Hopkins and then defeated him a second time, is now also a two-time Middleweight titleholder. But is the victory and the newly found championship status actually a bad thing for Bad Intentions?
We speculated months ago about just this scenario, Taylor defeating a titleholder in Soliman, who while scrappy and likeable, is far from an elite fighter. A title strap around his waist and some luster resorted to his name, Taylor is now in a position to land a big fight. And that’s where things could get bad for him.
Miguel Cotto holds the lineal championship at 160 lbs, and is likely occupied with Canelo Alvarez through next spring. Meanwhile, the wrecking ball and presumptive heir in the division is still Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. Golovkin fights on HBO, and will be in action in just 10 days against Marco Antonio Rubio, putting Golovkin and Taylor on the same schedule.
HBO is, of course, familiar with Taylor on their airwaves, and the powers that be surely know that his return would signal major ratings against somebody such as GGG. HBO would happily put together, and sell, this fight. It’s a launching pad for GGG against the former “man” at Middleweight, a can’t miss promotion from their perspective. But make no mistake about it, Golovkin vs. Taylor would be an absolute disaster.
Jermain Taylor is a fighter who has suffered bleeding on the brain. Caleb Truax knocked him down. Kelly Pavlik, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham all brutally kayoed him. Prior to this fight, he didn’t sniff the top 10 of the Middleweight division. He has no business in the ring against somebody like Gennady Golovkin at this stage of his career, and more importantly, at this stage of his life.
If anyone around him had any sense, they’d let this return to championship glory signal the end of Taylor’s career, a heroic curtain call enabling him to rest easy for the remainder of his years — not to mention allow him to sort out his pending legal issues. But no, that won’t happen, will it?
Taylor may or may not end up facing Hassan N’Dam, his newly minted mandatory challenger. But more likely, HBO pulls the financial strings necessary to set up Golovkin vs. Taylor for spring 2015. As a Jermain Taylor fan for well over a decade, I dread the day the fight gets signed.