Taylor eager to make homecoming as middleweight king


Taylor eager to make homecoming as middleweight king

Wednesday, November 8th - World Middleweight Champion Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor will don boxing gloves instead of a Santa suit, but he’ll get the opportunity to deliver a present when he defends his title at home in North Little Rock, Arkansas for the first time on Saturday, December 9 at Alltel Arena. Taylor (25-0-1, 17 KOs) will put his title at stake in front of his hometown fans which will be aired on HBO's World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00PM (ET) / 9:00PM (CT) / 7:00PM (PT) when he takes on former World Champion Kassim “The Dream” Ouma (25-2-1, 15 KOs). The 12-round main event is being promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Golden Boy Promotions and Peltz Boxing.


Taylor, 28, is one of boxing’s brightest stars and one of Arkansas’ most popular athletes. The fight with Ouma will mark his first defense in his home state. He won the title by defeating the legendary middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins on July 16, 2005, and repeated the win in the rematch on December 3, 2005.


“There’s no place like home and there’s no place I would rather defend my title,” said Taylor, whose last appearance in Arkansas was a one-sided decision over ex-middleweight champion William Joppy on December 4, 2004. “I have a lot of respect for Kassim Ouma. I know he’s hungry and he’s coming to get this title and we’ll give the fans a great night of boxing.”


Taylor is known as much for his quiet charm and rugged good looks as he is for his boxing skill, but he’s developed one of the game’s most impressive resumes.He won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics after becoming the first Arkansas ever to compete in the Olympics. He quickly showed  his amateur success was no fluke, reeling off seven consecutive wins, including five knockouts, in his first year alone as a pro. But he’ll face one of his most difficult challenges in Ouma, who is a former world title holder and is noted as one of the most active fighters in the business. Ouma consistently sets records for punch outputs  and routinely throws  more than 100 punches a round.


“I watched Ouma against Sechew Powell, and excellent fighter who I have sparred with and let me tell you, the man comes to fight,” Taylor said of Ouma, who handed Powell his first pro loss on Aug. 5. “I respect that. He’s not the type of fighter who worries about technique. He throws punches and comes to win.”


Ouma,  who will be 28 just three days after the fight, was born in Uganda. At 6, he was kidnapped and forced to join the national resistance army.


Andre Berto (15-0, 13 KOs), who is winning acclaim from many boxing writers as the top young fighter in the game, will meet gritty veteran Miguel Figueroa (24-5-1, 14 KOs) in the co-feature. Berto competed for Haiti in the 2004 Olympics and won a bronze medal for the U.S. in the 2003 World Championships. Only four of his bouts have gone more than four rounds.


As another treat for the home fans, former world heavyweight title challenger Dominick Guinn of Hot Springs, Ark., will also fight on the card. The opponent for Guinn (26-4-1, 18 KOs) will be Zach Page (12-8-1, 4 KO's) who is coming off a win against former Light Heavyweight Champion Louis Del Valle.


Tickets are priced at $650, $500, $300, $200, $150, $125, $75, $45, & $25 (Students Under age 18, Seniors & Active Military). Available through Alltel Arena Box Office, all Ticketmaster Outlets (501-975-7575) and Online at www.ticketmaster.com.