A career at the crossroads

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: October 18, 2009

IOWA CITY (BASN) — It was just a few years ago, Jermain Taylor upset Bernard Hopkins in a close decision and then repeated another decision victory over Hopkins in the rematch.

Taylor seemed to border upon greatness but never seem to cross that line and now after another devastating lost to another elite fighter; his future is now clouded.

Taylor’s downfall began with his first lost to Kelly Pavlik. In the early rounds, Taylor dominated and he nearly had Pavlik out in the third round as he knocked the Ohioan fighter down but he couldn’t close the show.

In the seventh round, Pavlik stopped Taylor with a brutal right hand that ended the fight with Taylor slumped in the corner. He was ahead on the cards but a knockout snatched defeat from victory.

Nor would this be the only fight that Taylor would lose a fight by knockout while being ahead. Against Froch, he was ahead on the cards when Froch ended the fight in the 12th round with seconds left.

Again, Taylor had Froch in trouble early in the fight as he knocked the British fighter down but just like the first Pavlik fight, he could not close the show.

Against Abraham, Taylor was behind on points or it appeared that way. In the Super Six tournament, a knockout victory means three points whereas a decision victory worth two points.

Abraham’s punches were more accurate and his defensive skills forced Taylor to jab and negated the Taylor right. Going into the last round, Taylor was only stunned once but he appeared to be ready to finish the fight on his feet but in the last 10 seconds, history repeated itself.

Just like the previous Froch fight, Taylor lost the fight in the last seconds of the fight.

Taylor was out before his body collided with the canvas.

Taylor’s next bout will be against Andre Wards, a young fighter who does not hit with the same ferocity as either Abraham or Froch but Taylor losses were not just close defeats but tough physical losses that shorten careers.

At 31, Taylor may be reaching that point that those losses start having an adverse effect upon his career. The reality is that he could have won at least two of those fights that lost but he came up just short.

Taylor is involved in a tournament that he has at least fights two more times over the next year and certainly; he can find a way into the semifinals. The reality is that one of the Americans fighters will make their way into the semifinal, simply based on the math.

There are three European fighters and three Americans, so it is forgone conclusion that at last one American has to make it. And depending how Ward-Kessler turns out, Taylor may even be favored over the young American.

For team Taylor, post tournament may feature some questions. Unless Taylor finds a way to win the Super Six tournament and resurrect his career, retirement should be an option on the table.

After the tournament, Taylor will still be only 33 and still have some years left.

Boxing is a tough sport and it is a sport that leaves lasting scars. For Taylor, he has already been involved in wars, wars that he has lost. For a boxer, wars like those that Taylor have been engaged in take a toll not just on the body but the psyche as well.

There is a point that a fighter must look at his career and decide how much punishment he is willing to tolerate for his art. If Taylor finds himself out of the tournament after the initial three fights, retirement should be a serious possibility.

For now, he has a title to pursue and outside chance of winning. His first lost puts that goal in jeopardy but not yet out of reach. One more loss and then future decisions come more quickly.