Jermain Taylor Is Still The Man!

By Tom Donelson
Updated: May 28, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jermain Taylor is a young fighter with technical deficiency but raw material born for greatness. With quick hands and power in either hand, there are times that he looks amateurish and that is what frustrates his critics or one of the things.

The other is the perception that his team is protecting him, a point made over and over again in his last fight against Cory Spinks by the HBO team; in particular by Larry Merchant.

Some of the more observant boxing pundits understood the risk that Taylor took with Cory Spinks, who has produced surprises in the past. Originally scheduled to fight Sergio Mora, Taylor’s team selected the light hitting but tricky Spinks for their title bout.

Spinks is one of those fighters that boxer-punchers like Taylor can look bad against. He’s not one to stay in front of his opponent and his quick feet ensure his survivability against the bigger punchers.

His feet and quick hands proved decisive against Roman Karmazin, when Spinks outpointed the Russian for his IBF title. Spinks came in this fight as the IBF junior Middleweight titlist, so it was not as if Taylor replaced with Mora with a nobody. He replaced him with a world champion.

The fight was as boring as advertised but there was one interesting stat that was startling. Despite throwing far less punches, Taylor actually penetrated Spinks defenses with over third of his punches.

Spinks, despite throwing more punches, actually connected on less of his strikes! He only connected on 15% of his punches. Contrast this with De La Hoya, who managed to hit Floyd Mayweather with 21% of his punches and Mayweather is considered one of the boxing best defensive wizards.

Spinks had the advantage of speed and yet it was Taylor who landed the bigger blows and even more often. His punches often fell short and he never truly threatened Taylor.

Taylor now has won four of his last five fights against present or former world champions. He has beaten one hall of fame fighter twice and drew with another. He has defended his title against quality opponents.

All of these fights were close and in many cases, could have gone either way but there is no doubt Taylor is the man in the division. His hold on the title often appear to be tenuous but yet he finds ways to win against top notch competition.

Taylor is still a work in progress, a fighter with talent that has yet to put it together; a middleweight version of Lennox Lewis. Lewis often faced similar criticism but by the end of his career, his greatness was finally confirmed.

Even Hopkins was never considered a great fighter until recently when the overwhelming math of his 20 straight defenses could no longer be ignored.

Now Kelly Pavlik is the new threat to his title. Pavlik shocked the boxing world with his devastating knock out of Edison Miranda. Miranda caused terror among many elite Middleweights and had already broken the jaws of IBF title holder Arthur Abraham.

Miranda viewed Pavlik as his stepping stone for Taylor and it was Miranda who became the stepping stone. Pavlik used a variety of punches and simply forced Miranda to back up in this fight.

Miranda could never move forward and many times, Pavlik trapped Miranda on the ropes and unleashed power shots upon power shots. He took Miranda’s best shots and simply wore the more raw Columbian fighter down. He also showed that he belonged in the elites and worthy of a title shot.

For Taylor, he has two options. The first option would be to fight Joe Calzaghe, which would be a big money bout. Calzaghe wants this fight for he wants a defining fight against a great American fighter.

For Taylor, he can grab a second title from one of the world best.

The second option is Pavlik, who is becoming a boxing fan favorite with is slugging style. Both fighters represent a challenge for Taylor but as Taylor has shown in the past; he may find a way to win bouts that the boxing world says he should lose. He would be the underdog against Calzaghe and at best the Pavlik’s bout would be considered a pick-em.

The criticism of Taylor are unwarranted. Yes, he has not yet had that overwhelming victory that has fans drooling. But he has beaten some of boxing’s best, and he is the recognized Middleweight champion.