With a little over a month to go before the most highly anticipated rematch in years - between undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor and the man he defeated for the title in July, Bernard Hopkins – the champ is working hard in his new training camp in Memphis, Tennessee, and chomping at the bit to step into the ring again with ‘The Executioner’. “I’ve been training hard, I’m already on weight, and I can’t wait to get into the ring,” said the unbeaten Taylor, who moved his camp from Miami to Memphis due to the hurricanes that ravaged South Florida. The 27-year-old champion will be training in a private area at the 6,000 square foot Memphis Police Boxing Gym, located next to door to The Liberty Bowl where the University of Memphis football team plays it's home games, which is approximately 120 miles from his hometown in Little Rock, Arkansas. Needless to say, it’s still Taylor country.
“The weather’s great here and the fans have taken me in as one of their own,” said Taylor, who as an amateur fought three times in Memphis. “I can’t go anywhere without being asked for an autograph, and it’s a pleasure to be around people who appreciate what you do.”
Taylor vs. Hopkins 2 - “No Respect”- will take place Saturday, December 3 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The championship card will be presented by
DiBella Entertainment and Golden Boy Promotions and will be broadcast live on HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 6 p.m. (PT) / 9 p.m. (ET).
For Taylor (24-0, 17 KOs), the rematch is an opportunity to further establish his credentials as the premier middleweight in the world, something he began on July 16. In that bout, the former 2000 U.S. Olympic Bronze Medalist handed Hopkins his first defeat since 1993. That’s not to say that Taylor didn’t have some butterflies before the bout.
“The Hopkins fight was the biggest thing that had ever happened to me in my life,” he said. “It was a lot bigger than the Olympics. You can dream about it, but until it happens, you don’t know what to expect. When I walked out there, I saw all the lights and said, ‘man I cannot believe this is real.’ But now for the second time around, it’s almost like any other fight.”
That’s bad news for Hopkins.
“I’ll tell you the truth, when I step in the ring this time, I’m giving him no respect,” admits Taylor. “He can’t knock me out, he’s not faster than me, he has nothing.”
“Jermain has always been one of the most mature boxers I’ve ever been around, and becoming undisputed champion has only increased that maturity and dedication,” said Taylor’s promoter, Lou DiBella. “We respect Hopkins’ accomplishments, but Jermain is the new boss at 160 pounds, and he’s going to let the world know that on December 3rd.
But despite his confidence, Taylor is training even harder than ever, armed with the added experience he picked up in the first fight with Hopkins. “I learned so much in that fight,” said Taylor. “Even in sparring now I’m picking my punches a lot better and I’m not throwing my right hand so wild. I’m keeping my hands up better, just because I know exactly how this man fights. The Hopkin's fight gave me more experience.”
Hopkins also showed Taylor that while it’s easy to be a gracious winner, it takes a real champion to be classy in defeat, something he hasn’t seen yet from ‘The Executioner’. “That surprised me a lot,” said Taylor. “He was the champion, and if he was a true champion he shouldn’t worry because he’s got another chance to get his belts back. But he’s still running around months after the first fight whining and crying like a baby. I’m just sick of him saying that he won the fight and that I didn’t beat him.”
Adds DiBella, “I’m proud to be associated with a young man who not only shows dedication to his craft, but who gives the sport a good name. Jermain Taylor is a special kid, in and out of the ring.”
But once he’s in the ring on December 3rd, expect to see Jermain Taylor’s ‘Bad Intentions’ come out. “Bernard knows he’s not strong enough to knock me out, he knows he’s not fast enough to outpoint me,” said Taylor. “If he comes in and tries to fight me, it’s going to be a quick night.” A prediction from the champ? “I will go in there and make Bernard look his age,” said Taylor.
Tickets, priced at $800, $600, $400, $200 and $100, are on sale now at the Mandalay Bay Theatre Box Office. Tickets also will be sold at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (Tower Records/WOW!, Smith’s Food and Drug Centers, Robinsons-May stores and Ritmo Latino). To charge by phone with a major credit card, call the Mandalay Bay box office at (702) 632-7580 or Ticketmaster at (702) 474-4000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mandalaybay.com
The Taylor vs. Hopkins 2 pay-per-view telecast, beginning at 6 p.m. (PT) / 9 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, December 3, has a suggested retail price of $49.95, will be distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View and will be available to more than 50 million pay-per-view homes. The telecast will be available in HD-TV for those viewers who can receive HD. HBO Pay-Per-View is the leading supplier of event programming to the pay-per-view industry