Undisputed world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, just weeks away from the first defense of his crown against Bernard Hopkins on December 3rd, will be featured in this week’s edition of ESPN The Magazine, which hits newsstands today, Wednesday, November 23rd. The in-depth feature, entitled ‘Unbreakable’ was penned by ESPN The Magazine’s senior writer, Tim Keown. Three excerpts from the story appear below.
Ozell Nelson got down to business. “Here’s the deal,” he said. “I’m going to take a gamble on you. If you make it, I make it. If not? What the heck, we tried. But you have a chance to make millions, and I’m never going to make millions laying bricks. The truck can wait.” Taylor nodded his head and stammered and said, “Coach, if I make it big, I make you a promise: I’m going to buy you a truck.”
Now the kid is the middleweight champion of the world, a dream come to life, a 27-year-old, 160-pound slab of thick muscle held up by stalk-like legs and feet that bounce with the lightness of air. He’s a bull, a straight-ahead mauler with a terrific jab and a powerful left hook. He hasn’t found a fighter yet who can put him down.
There’s no anxiety now, though, no apparent nerves as Taylor prepares for their Dec. 3 rematch in Vegas. Hopkins complained so vociferously about the split decision that Taylor says, “I lost all respect for him. I gave him way too much respect the first fight, and he gave me none. He tried every trick in the book, which shows me he’s not a true champion. I won’t cheat you to beat you. Fight like a champion fights, and keep your mouth shut.”