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Should Taylor walk away?

17
Oct

Jermain Taylor was knocked out in the final seconds of the final round of a fight for the second consecutive time when Arthur Abraham flattened him in Berlin, Germany on Saturday. Taylor, who was counted out with only six seconds remaining in the first-round bout of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, must now consider if he should continue with the 168-pound tournament. Photo / Marianne Mueller

Jermain Taylor should never have been in the Super Six Boxing Classic. And after what happened on Saturday, it might behoove him to pull out.

Taylor acquitted himself reasonably well against Arthur Abraham for 11 rounds and 2:54 minutes in the first round of the super middleweight tournament in Berlin, Germany. He would’ve lost a unanimous decision but at least he fought back until the end.

And then Taylor degenerated into  well, Taylor.



For the second consecutive fight, the former middleweight titleholder from Little Rock, Ark., was knocked out in the final seconds, this time by one punch from Abraham that sent Taylor into unconsciousness and ended matters with six seconds remaining in the fight.

In April, Taylor lost a fight he was winning when he was stopped by Carl Froch with 14 seconds to go. He also has lost four of his past five fights, three by knockout, all of which probably would end the career of most fighters.

And now he has to fight two more times in the opening round of the tournament? How awkward.

Some have already called for Taylor to pull out the competition, which is reasonable. They would argue that three brutal knockouts and a series of setbacks in two years is enough punishment for any fighter to absorb.

Clearly, Taylor and his handlers have some thinking to do. On one hand, he signed on for at least three fights and the healthy payday that goes with them. It wouldn’t be easy to walk away. On the other hand, how much more of this can he take?

Taylor is scheduled to face Andre Ward in his next Super Six fight early next year. That matchup could be a blessing if he remains in the competition. Ward, who faces Mikkel Kessler in his first-round fight Nov. 21, probably will be favored over Taylor but isn’t the physical beast that Abraham, Froch and Kelly Pavlik are. The guess here is that Ward would win a decision.

Imagine for a second that Taylor suffers another knockout loss, though. His next opponent? Kessler, perhaps the most-complete, most-feared fighter among the six. If Ward stops Taylor, there would be no way his handlers could justify feeding him to the accomplished Dane.

The fact that Taylor must fight Ward is unsettling enough. The thought of him fighting Kessler after another knockout seems almost criminal.

However, let’s look at the positive. Taylor did well against Abraham in the early rounds and, while he faded again to some degree, he was competitive until the final seconds against a physical brute who I think will win the tournament championship. The scores through 11 rounds were 105-103, 106-102 and 107-102 in favor of Abraham, which was a large lead but not an utter embarrassment.

Indeed, had Taylor managed to avoid Abraham’s big right in the closing seconds, we’d probably be saying, “Well, he did OK. He did better than we expected.”

Perhaps Taylor will have too much experience for Ward and manage to win, or at least give a good account of himself and finish the fight on his feet. Then a fight with Kessler wouldn’t seem so out of line.

As I wrote that, though, it seemed like fantasy. Taylor (28-4-1, 17 knockouts) seems to be a damaged fighter who is in over his head in this tournament. He might be wise to walk away now rather than risk serious injury. No one would criticize him for it.

Abraham, meanwhile, was impressive. The Germany-based Armenian started slowly, as expected, but picked up his attack midway through the fight and began to dominate Taylor. And the finish was nothing short of spectacular, a straight right through Taylor’s guard that knocked him down and out cold.

I saw nothing in that fight that would make me change my mind about Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs). I still believe he will win the tournament and become a worldwide star, although that’s what I thought Taylor would become after he twice beat Bernard Hopkins.

So who knows what might happen in Abraham’s next two fights, against Andre Dirrell and Froch?

“This is boxing,” Taylor said. “You gotta expect the worst. It’s a hard sport.”

He would know.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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