The State Of The Game 2005: Taylor Finally Steps It Up!

By Jeff Young

14/01/2005

The State Of The Game 2005: Taylor Finally Steps It Up!

Choice Of Edouard An Unexpected, But pleasant Surprise!

Those out there that know meĀ were probably wondering when the Jermain Taylor bashing column was going to come. Well, I was all set to write it out three days ago, but there is something else that I am working on as well and I decided to wait. Now it will be real easy for me to sit here and point out the obvious reasons why Jermain Taylor is hand picking his opponents, but despite the fact that I feel there was a better fight on the table for February 19, and that the opponent that has been chosen is a step back in terms of who Taylor should be fighting, I will not bash Lou Dibella and Team Taylor on this one, but the stage was all set for me to take off the gloves once again to criticize the opponents of Taylor. I will give this one to them. Why? Because I like Daniel Edouard.

When it was announced that there was three possible opponents for Jermain Taylor for February 19, I knew immediately that Sam Soliman was not on that list. Sure many are wanting it to be Soliman, but with a little over a month to prepare for the fight, I am sure that the money was not going to be adequate enough to pay both Taylor and Soliman what they wanted for the fight. Also when I got word that Kingsley Ikeke was being offered again as an opponent for Taylor, I had hopes, but deep down you just knew that the fight was not going to come off even though Ikeke and his people were eagerly awaiting the opportunity for Jermain to accept.

The first name that I heard getting tossed around was Tarvis Simms. I grimaced when I heard this. I mean, Tarvis has yet to step up, however from what I am told, both him and his brother Travis hold wins over Taylor at the amateur level and if the fight would have been made, you already could smell the HBO spin on the fight ala Cotto-Pinto, Mosley-Forrest. Simms was an outside choice that I was clearly against. the fight did not make sense on many levels not to mention that Simms has yet to step across that eight round fight yet.

Next on the list came Troy Rowland. Give me a break, Troy Rowland. Sure Rowland out-boxed Epifiano Mendoza, but if you can get Mendoza past the third round he is not the same fighter. He is a knockout guy plain and simple, and Rowland almost found that out in the seventh round of their fight. I give Rowland a lot of credit for taking what Mendoza had to offer and sticking to his game plan and defeating the dangerous fighter. He showed heart, but Rowland offered nothing to let me know that a fight with Taylor was going to be anywhere competitive. Sure he can box, but Taylor can too. Besides Rowland does not possess the power to keep Jermain at bay. He throws a lot of punches, but did anyone really expect Rowland to pull the upset.

One thing for certain, is that with the talk of Rowland, he was getting a huge fan base across to boards as fans are becoming disgusted with the choice of opponents for Taylor, and many out there are hoping for Taylor to get shocked. Many are still holding a grudge that he walked away from a WBC eliminator with Howard Eastman to face the faded William Joppy. The people are expecting more, and receiving less, but then again we have to be realistic about the situation. If the Eastman fight came off, Jermain was going to have to travel to England for the fight. I feel that Team Taylor felt the risk was too great for the reward. If Jermain did not knock Eastman out, I doubt he gets a decision then it is back to square one. Besides that, Eastman has been deserving of a shot against Hopkins for some time now, and he is now getting that chance thanks to Taylor not taking the fight. So actually, even though many wanted to see Eastman-Taylor, Jermain and his people did the boxing world a favor by not taking the fight and giving most fans what they wanted anyway, a Hopkins-Eastman fight.

When Greg Leon told me that Daniel Edouard was being considered, I liked the idea. I have liked the possibility of Taylor-Edouard for some time now. I think it is a good fight to make, especially with a little over a month to prepare. Edouard will push Jermain. He will come at him, and he will let his hands go. The problem is that no one has really attempted to just jump on Jermain Taylor. All his opponents say they will, but none ever actually do. They let Jermain have his way. Edouard has one speed, and that is a full speed attack. He will jump on Jermain, and it will make for an exciting fight while it lasts. The problem that I see is that Daniel may be a little too small for Jermain, however remember a few months ago people were telling Edouard that he was in over his head against Willie Gibbs and we all saw how that turned out.

Now I am not saying that Edouard will beat Jermain, but he is going to make it a fight. He is not coming to be an opponent, he is coming to win. If you have followed Taylor's career, you know that when he has faced the few fighters that did come at him, it was exciting. Jermain likes a guy that is going to come in there and push him. He is getting that this time around.

What I do not like is that being ranked as high as Jermain, he is taking on a guy that is not even considered a top 10 guy in most organizations. Last year I spoke with Jermain's manager Jimmy Binns and I asked him why they have not fought Kingsley Ikeke who is ranked just a few spots behind Jermain, and he said that would be a step back and that they were looking ahead. He also stated that Jermain's critics were going to be silenced with his next fight. Well, that next fight was William Joppy, a fighter many considered to be finished, had not fought in a year, and was pummeled by Bernard Hopkins the fight before. To be honest, I did not feel real comfortable with Jermain's performance in that fight. He seemed to be too hesitant to engage a fighter that obviously was there to collect a check. Many fans got that impression as well.

After the Joppy fight, it seemed that Jermain was begging for someone to give him a chance. He wanted Hopkins, he wanted Trinidad. So going into this, why do you call out Trinidad and Hopkins, but you will not sign to fight Kingsley Ikeke, because as pointed out months ago was a step back from where they wanted to go, but yet they will name people like Simms, Rowland, or Edouard who are all ranked lower than Ikeke, but he is a step back and they are beyond that. Even by signing to face Joppy, wasn't that a step in the other direction. It was a good name for his resume and he did score a knock down in the fight, but was Joppy that big fight that was going to silence the critics, no it wasn't. It created more.

As I stated before, I like the Edouard fight. It will be enjoyable to watch, but this is the last straw. You cannot keep promising the critic silencer fight and then face guys like this. Jermain's next fight will have to be against a Soliman, an Ikeke, or a Felix Sturm. Dibella has already mentioned Sturm, but most may feel that the Sturm fight will not be made. I mean if Taylor would not go to England to face Eastman, do you really think he will go to Germany to face Sturm? I am sure they will want the fight in Germany, but I am willing to bet that Sturm will gladly come back to the states to fight Taylor. After all Sturm gained a huge fan base in America after his showing against Oscar Delahoya and the American public wants to see Sturm again. It is a fight that can be made, and I think it can be made without the your country against mine concept. The determining factor will be money however. Will they offer enough money to draw Sturm out of Germany? That is the question on that fight.

After the Edouard fight, there can be no more steps back. The fans will not accept it. And please do not go by what the hometown fans in Arkansas say. Believe me, besides Jermain Taylor and Bernard Hopkins, 95 percent of the Arkansas fans cannot even tell you another fighter at middleweight. Most do not even come out to support Jermain when he is in Little Rock and I have been hearing a lot of rumors that they are even reluctant to keep coming back to Arkansas to hold the fights.

I wish Jermain and Daniel the best of luck in their upcoming fight, and I am looking forward to it, but at the same time, please quit referring to fighters ranked slightly under Jermain as steps back. He has not taken that step forward fight yet. And one more thing, if you can get out to see this fight live it is going to be well worth the money, just to see the weigh-in. Picture this, at the scales you will have Jermain Taylor, Daniel Edouard, Bernard Hopkins, Howard Eastman, Kingsley Ikeke, and another middleweight that I cannot say at this time. Some of the best fighters and top contenders at 160 in the same arena. Could be interesting.

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