Pat Burns: Jermain Taylor’s ‘fantastic, ready to go’ against Sam Soliman
Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor is mentally and physically “fantastic” in advance of Wednesday’s fight with IBF beltholder Sam Soliman at Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, his trainer, Pat Burns told RingTV.com on Monday.
Taylor (32-4-1, 20 knockouts), 36, is challenging Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs) in a clash to be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes and which is being promoted by Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing.
Burns spoke to RingTV.com from Mississippi.
“Jermain’s fantastic. He’s very eager,” said Burns, who guided the Arkansas native to a mark of 25-0 with 17 knockouts before being replaced in 2006 by the late Emanuel Steward.
“Jermain has been training for nine weeks and we’ve trained hard. He was in Miami for a couple of weeks; we’ve done some really hard work. We’ve done five weeks of sparring and it’s worked out really well.”
In his last fight in December, Taylor ended a 14-month ring absence with a seventh round technical knockout over Juan Carlos Candelo, whom he dropped in the final round.
The only fighter who can claim two victories over Bernard Hopkins, Taylor will be after his fifth straight victory against Soliman.
Prior to facing Candelo, Taylor had not fought since stopping Raul Munoz in the second round in October 2012.
Soliman, 40, Australia, won the title in his last fight in May by unanimous decision over Felix Sturm before the latter’s partisan fans in Germany.
The win was Soliman’s second in 15 months over Sturm, who lost a unanimous decision to Soliman in February 2013. However, the result was rendered a no-contest after Soliman tested positive for a banned substance.
In victory over Sturm, Soliman won his first major title belt, doing so with his ninth consecutive victory in a run that has included five knockouts since dropping a unanimous decision to countryman Anthony Mundine in May 2008.
Soliman entered the rematch with Sturm having scored a ninth round stoppage of Les Sherrington last December. Soliman has also split bouts with former WBC 168-pound titleholder Sakio Bika, winning by majority decision in October 2002 and dropping a unanimous decision in October 2007.
“The one thing that about Soliman is that he’s a very good fighter,” said Burns. “Soliman is very tough and he can be very elusive. He’s just a very good fighter. Soliman would be a challenge for anyone.”
Taylor had lost four out of five fights, two by 12th round knockout, before ending a 26-month ring absence with an eighth round stoppage of Baltimore’s Jessie Nicklow in December 2011. Burns reunited with Taylor for the Nicklow fight.
Before fighting Nicklow, Taylor had suffered final round stoppage losses against Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham in April and October 2009, respectively, the latter prompting Taylor’s withdrawal from Showtime’s “Super Six World Classic” super middleweight tournament.
Taylor received a CT Scan and an MRI among other tests in the days after the loss to Abraham and was diagnosed with a concussion, short-term memory loss and bleeding on the brain.
Nevertheless, Taylor was unanimously approved for a boxing license in September 2011 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
In 12 of his previous 13 contests before Nicklow, Taylor’s opponents had been titleholders at the time they faced him or beltholders previously.
Taylor’s unbeaten run under Burns included consecutive victories by split and unanimous decision over Hopkins in July and December 2005, respectively, the first of which earned Taylor the RING, IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight belts. The loss to Taylor was the first for Hopkins in 12 years, ending his record run of 20 consecutive, successful title defenses.
Taylor left Burns for Steward after the bouts with Hopkins and subsequently battled through a draw with former 154-pound champion Winky Wright in June 2006 at a time when Wright was regarded as one of the sport’s premier defensive wizards.
“Jermain has an awful lot of experience and he’s fought just about every different kind of style that’s out there and every type of style that you can imagine,” said Burns.
“Plus he’s got all of that international and Olympic experience, which really helps a lot. We’ll just see how it plays out. We have two or three different game plans that we can use, so we’ll be fine.”
Taylor was 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts in September 2007 when he lost for the first time by seventh round knockout to Kelly Pavlik. Taylor then made his super middleweight debut with a unanimous decision over Jeff Lacy in November 2008 before falling to Froch and Abraham.
“Jermain knows what this fight means to him,” said Burns. “He realizes that this is his second opportunity and that this kind of opportunity doesn’t come along very often. He’s just really ready to go.”