Taylor prepared for Spinks, but eager to discuss future options

By George Kimball


Taylor prepared for Spinks, but eager to discuss future options

MEMPHIS, Tenn. --- Saturday night’s Edison Miranda-Kelly Pavlik HBO co-feature is supposed to produce a mandatory challenger for Jermain Taylor, but right now the chances that the Miranda-Pavlik winner will actually be the middleweight champion’s next opponent are no better than one in three.

Assuming – and it would appear to be a pretty fair assumption – Taylor gets past Cory Spinks at the FedEx Forum Saturday night, he will have several available options, and an immediate defense against Miranda/Pavlik may be the least appealing of them.

Super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe is in the United States, and after serving as an in-studio host for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights is expected to wing his way to Memphis. No one would be surprised to see him call out Taylor, and Jerman seems eager enough to accept the challenge.

"I’ve heard he might be here," Taylor said Wednesday before shaking out at the Memphis Police Gym. "It don’t bother me a bit. Money in the bank, is the way I look at it."

Taylor reckons that he is destined to meet up with Calzaghhe sooner or later, more likely sooner.

"If we’re going to do it, let’s do it," said Taylor, who added that he would have "no problem with that" if moving up to 168 pounds was what it took to bring it off.

But Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella cautions that logistical considerations might make a Calzaghe-Taylor megafight economically impractical. To work from Calzaghe’s standpoint the fight would need to be in Britain, and probably outdoors, but to work from Taylor’s perspective, it would almost have to be a pay-per-view event to satisfy the purse demands of both boxers.

Would a crowd of 30,000 turn out in Britain for a 4 am fight? Or, conversely, are Americans going to buy a PPV event that goes on at 6 or 7 in the evening? Or would HBO be willing to stretch its purse strings enough to make Calzaghe-Taylor a World Championship Boxing event and find a middle time?

There are enough questions about it that DiBella has established several fallback positions, one of which would involve a September Taylor defense against popular Irishman John Duddy at Madison Square Garden. If Duddy fares will against Dupre Strickland at New York’s Beacon Theatre Friday night, manager Eddie McLoughlin is supposed to fly to Memphis on Saturday to further discuss the matter.

And going straight to the mandatory against the Miranda-Pavlik survivor remains another option.

Taylor is coming off a draw with Winky Wright and a ho-hum decision over Kassim Ouma, but if he had a mandate to look spectacular in his next defense he could hardly have chosen a more unsuited opponent.

Although few expect Taylor to have much trouble with Spinks, his jab-and-grab, run-and-hold style is hardly geared toward an artistic performance.

"I know," sighed Taylor, "but he’s the only one that stepped up. I was supposed to fight Sergio Mora, remember, but he got scared. Said there weren’t enough Mexicans in Memphis."

Taylor insists that he isn’t underestimating his opponent.

"Cory Spinks is a good fighter, and I expect he’ll come to fight," he said hopefully.

And if he doesn’t?

"I probably won’t get credit if I win, but I’ve got used to it by now. It don’t bother me at all," said Jermain. "I know he can’t hurt me. I’ll just go in there and box."

Taylor worked with several southpaw sparring partners, including Emanuel Steward protégé Andy Lee and Canadian middleweight Ian Gardner, in preparing for Spinks. Lee, like Duddy an Irish middleweight, fights in Memphis on Friday night, when he headlines a card against Billy (Crowbar) Mitchem at the New Daisy. Kronk stablemate Johnathon Banks fights Jamaican veteran Lloyd Bryan in the co-feature.

Veteran Mike Ortega will be the referee for Saturday’s main event, while the ringside judges will be Dick Flaherty of Massachusetts, Gale Van Hoy of Texas, and Michael Pernick of Florida.


Send questions and comments to: gkimball@boxingtalk.com