Jermain Taylor Seeks To Establish His Own Legacy

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 14, 2006

Winky Wright (left) battles Jermain Taylor on Saturday night in Memphis

Winky Wright (left) battles Jermain Taylor on Saturday night in Memphis

NEW YORK — When Jermain Taylor enters the ring to take on Winky Wright on Saturday all eyes will be focused on the champion. Taylor is coming off two consecutive victories that solidified an end to Bernard Hopkins’ 10-year grasp atop the middleweight division.

With Hopkins having ended his career as a light-heavyweight champion following a victory Antonio Tarver in a farewell fight in Atlantic City last weekend, attention turns toward Taylor, a 27-year-old, Little Rock, AZ native, to see whether he can carry the torch Hopkins left behind.

Taylor (25-0, 17 KOs) will make the second defense of the world middleweight championship against Wright (50-3 25 KOs) at FedEx Forum in Memphis. HBO will televise the bout beginning at 9:30 p.m.EST.

Hopkins was the most dominant middleweight champion since Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Hopkins is the only fighter to have unified the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO championships.

Hopkins is the only fighter to have KO’d both Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. Hopkins’ success stems from his ability to turn away all challengers with the exception of Taylor.

Taylor will not be fighting a 40-year-old on Saturday. He’ll be meeting Wright, 34, St. Petersburg, FL, a southpaw (left-handed) fighter. Wright is considered to be one of the very best pure boxing technicians in the world.

Trinidad and De La Hoya avoided Wright at 154 on their way toward Hopkins. Wright is considered to be one of those fighters in which “the risk is not worth the reward.”

Wright is considered by many as a much too dangerous of an opponent to face. He is tough to hit and very difficult to look good fighting Wright.

Just ask Fernando Vargas, who barked at giving Wright a rematch after a controversial 12-round majority decision appeared to have robbed Wright of the IBF junior middleweight championship in December 1999. Wright has not lost a fight in more than 6 ½ years since losing to Vargas.

Trinidad looked like a shot fighter the way Wright jabbed his way to a one-sided unanimous decision in May 2005. In fact, Trinidad announced his retirement two days after Wright embarrassed one of the hardest punchers in the history of the welterweight division.

“Sugar” Shane Mosley acted as if he tasted pepper-salt after Wright twice defeated him to become the Undisputed world junior middleweight champion.

Wright has fought all over the world including Spain, England, France, Argentina, Germany, and South Africa. There is nothing that Taylor will bring on Saturday that Wright has not seen throughout his 15-year career. Wright has never been knocked out.

Taylor’s promoter, Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment did not want Taylor to head into another dangerous after going 24 rounds with Hopkins. This fight is mandated by the WBC since Wright beat Sam Soliman in December for the right to become the No. 1-ranked contender. It’s been six months already. The time is now.

The time has come to see if Taylor can carry his own middleweight title legacy.