Taylor Beats Joppy, Awaits Hopkins

By Francis Walker
Updated: December 5, 2004

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Jermain Taylor has developed into one of boxing’s top prospects. Fighting in his native Little Rock, Arkansas, Taylor (22-0, 16 KOs) elevated his status as a legitimate middleweight contender after dominating former three-time middleweight champ, William Joppy (34-4-1, 29 KOs).

Taylor won a well-deserved, unanimous 12-round decision in front of in his hometown of Little Rock Arkansas on Saturday. Taylor moved one step closer toward his first shot at the world middleweight championship held by Bernard Hopkins.

In four years since his professional debut at Madison Square Garden in Jan. 2000, only two of Taylor’s 23 opponents had losing records. Taylor has defeated former world champions Raul Marquez and now Joppy.

Taylor’s victory over Joppy is significant. As a former three-time WBA middleweight champion, Joppy is a veteran of 14 world championship fights. Joppy was fast with his feet and quick with his hands, as he was considered one of the best middleweight fighters from 1995-2001.

Also, aside from suffering brutal losses to Felix Trinidad (KO 5) and Hopkins (L 12), Joppy was undefeated in non-world title fights.

Taylor was the perfect opponent for Joppy to defeat in order revive a once promising career. Joppy was the perfect opponent for Taylor advance to the next level.

Earlier in his career, Taylor was instantly known for using his left jab efficiently. His jab was clearly is best punch. But against Joppy, Taylor displayed more power in his left hook as he dropped Joppy in the fifth round.

Taylor also displayed amore balanced attack by neutralizing Joppy’s aggressive left jabs by counterpunching effectively. Joppy walked into Taylor’s arsenal of hooks and uppercuts.

Joppy simply had no answer for Taylor’s fluency, as he neutralized Joppy’s aggressive left jab in the later rounds by pressing the former champion to fight going backwards. After the knockdown, Joppy was reduced to fighting in survival mode – fighting non-aggressively hoping to not get KO’d.

Taylor was ahead on all three judges scorecards 120-107.

Taylor Deserves Hopkins Fight

Taylor is an undefeated prospect who has two impressive one-sided victories against former world champions. Taylor deserves a world title shot considering he has defeated more experienced opponents with noteworthy records such as 35-2, 35-3, and 24-3.

Taylor has a fan base and is developing a bigger name among general (not necessarily hardcore) boxing fans, as he has fought internationally on HBO Pay-Per-View undercards and headlined several HBO Boxing After Dark telecasts in his hometown.

The question whether Taylor can defeat Hopkins is another question.

Hopkins, although he will turn 40 in January, has not lost a fight since losing to Roy Jones Jr. in 1994. He won the IBF middleweight championship in April 1995, but did not unify the middleweight crown until 2001 when he knocked out Felix Trinidad in the twelfth-round at Madison Square Garden to tie Carlos Monzon’s record for most consecutive middleweight title defenses of 14.

Hopkins, to date, has successfully expanded that record to 19 following an epic ninth-round KO of Oscar De La Hoya on a liver shot in September.

Hopkins can adjust to any style. From Jones, to Trinidad, and De La Hoya, Hopkins can adjust to any style. Hopkins can be very aggressive behind his left jab or lead with his straight right.

Hopkins can also be non-aggressive and counterpunch effectively. Hopkins can punish an opponent in the middle of the ring, but in recent years have become increasingly ferocious when he has an opponent against the ropes.

Hopkins, known as “The Executioner” has an immeasurable level of concentration and relentless refusal to lose. No other fighter fights with more desperation than Hopkins.

Taylor, at 26, is 14 years younger than Hopkins and could be the third fastest challenger Hopkins has faced since Jones and De La Hoya (both are very fast). Aside from hand speed and perhaps a quicker jab, Taylor is really going to have to elevate the level of his game if he were to face Hopkins next year.

Hopkins is penciled in to fight early spring against No.1-ranked title challenger Howard Eastman, who is not an easy opponent. Perhaps Felix Sturm, who lost a controversial 12-round decision to De La Hoya in June, could be mandated for a shot against Hopkins’ titles since there are more than two sanctioning bodies involved.

Taylor may have to wait toward the end of 2005 before his promoters at DiBella Entertainment can negotiate a title fight with Hopkins, who recently formed an alliance with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Until proven wrong, Hopkins will defeat all challengers.