Jermain Taylor outpoints Sam Soliman, wins IBF middleweight title
Former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor scored a unanimous decision over Sam Soliman, who suffered four knockdowns and an injured right knee during their IBF title bout on Wednesday in Biloxi, Mississippi. Taylor won by scores of 116-111, 115-109, and 116-109.
With the victory, Taylor (33-4-1, 21 knockouts) regained a portion of the undisputed championship that he lost to Kelly Pavlik in 2007. The 2000 Olympic bronze medalist’s career experienced many setbacks since the stoppage loss to Pavlik, including back-to-back final-round knockouts to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham in 2009, after which he was diagnosed with a brain bleed. Although he was medically cleared to continue fighting before embarking on a 2011 comeback, his participation in Wednesday’s ESPN2-televised title bout was widely criticized for safety reasons.
The fight was also criticized because of Taylor’s involvement in a shooting incident at his home in Arkansas, a legal matter that is still pending.
However, the 36-year-old veteran put the criticism and controversy behind him and was able to take advantage of the unfortunate situation that Soliman (44-12, 18 KOs) had to deal with. The Australian veteran’s right knee appeared to give out after he was dropped by jab in Round 7. He was floored again in Rounds 8, 9 and 11 but never considered stopping and never stopped trying to defend the title he lifted from Felix Sturm in May.
“He did exactly what I would have done, he kept fighting,” Taylor said during his post-fight interview. “That’s what fighters are supposed to do.”
Taylor said he looked forward to defending his new title against either IBF mandatory Hassan N’Dam or former WBO beltholder and fellow Al Haymon-managed fighter Peter Quillin, both of whom were ringside.
“I’m ready to fight whoever,” Taylor said. “I’ve never ducked anyone in my career.”
To his credit, Soliman, who turns 41 next month, did not use his knee injury as an excuse for the loss.
“Absolutely no excuses because if he wasn’t as good as he is he wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of it and I would have gone home with a nice win,” Soliman said during his post-fight interview.
Taylor started slow and cautiously, perhaps due to ring rust from only having fought once since October 2012, or perhaps due to Soliman’s awkward style, but he got his signature punch — the jab — working in Round 6 and used it to score the first knockdown in Round 7. The other knockdowns Taylor scored came from right hands, but none them seemed to land flush or seriously hurt Soliman. The defending beltholder simply could not stay upright whenever he was knocked off balance.
Soliman’s corner, referee Bill Clancy and the ringside physician considered stopping the fight at different points after Round 8 but the determination that has defined his 17-year career kept him in the bout until the final bell.