Jermain Taylor, and what makes him middleweight champion
09.12.06 - by Alden "The Kid" Chodash: Jermain Taylor proved Saturday night that you don't need to look spectacular to retain your world title. This was Taylor's homecoming, his chance to send a message to future threats such as Wright, Calzaghe, and even Abraham. Although he didn't increase his stock off a beat-down of smaller, yet extremely game Kassim Ouma, he prevented the Ugandan from giving a solid blueprint on how to defeat Taylor. And although many may believe that Hopkins and Wright gave plenty clues on how to fight Taylor, beating him is a completely different task. So what really separates Jermain from the middleweight division?
Article posted on 10.12.2006
As shown in the twelfth round against Hopkins (fight one), Jermain has a big heart. After taking a severe shellacking in two previous rounds, Taylor was in serious trouble. Jermain Taylor, only 23 bouts into his professional career at that point, summoned up all the gumption he could muster and fighting on the biggest stage in the world, in a bout in which expert commentator Larry Merchant described as "the most important fight of 2005", Jermain Taylor exchanged shots with Bernard and although Hopkins clearly won the round, Taylor proved that his desire was nearly unmatchable. Taylor has also flashed his gritty side by taking bouts with the former pound-for-pound kingpin Hopkins (twice), and Wright, who's the closest thing to technically sound than any other fighter in boxing today. Though many make an argument that Taylor was defeated in all three bouts, Taylor, who only has 27 fights under his belt up to this point, is still middleweight champion today and at the end of the day that's really all that matters.
Jermain's punching power may not be apparent in the books, but it does play a major role in how Jermain wins his fights. The impregnable Wright paid a heavy price for his approach against Taylor, most notably to his face after twelve rounds. Wright was backed up by Taylor, and I can also recall a combination by Taylor knocking Wright into the ropes as well. If Taylor wasn't a big puncher, Wright would completely overtake him in close quarters and would be world champion today but it was the combination of punching power and confidence that deterred Wright enough to prevent him from emerging victorious.
Though you constantly hear Jermain Taylor after a victory reciting "I still have a lot to improve on", Taylor's confidence is another key factor that carried him to an undefeated record after fighting the best fighters in the world. First things first, Taylor wouldn't take these fights if he didn't have confidence in his ability. Taylor, against Hopkins and Winky, has shown confidence by just outworking these pound-for-pound greats and being willing to take the initiative in exchange for some heavy shots. Taylor, though I do accuse him of not fighting the full three minutes of every round, produces round-winning rallies in many of his fights. In these rally's, he has a "can't be stopped" expression on his face and he fires his best shots no matter how elusive the opposition may be.
Taylor is just another example of how fighters can win fights without gaining many fans. Taylor is built on those specific talents that top off an impressive middleweight body structure which makes him extremely hard to defeat. The various styles he's been facing are also making Taylor a more difficult task as seen against Ouma. Jermain may not be polished but he's more than ready to face (and likely beat) some of the best fighters in the world for very lucrative pay-checks.
Alden "The Kid" Chodash is the newest member of the Boxing Writers Association of America as well as webmaster of AldenBoxing.com.
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