Once again on Saturday night I was reminded that Jermain Taylor may be the most frustrating person in sports. Through the first 6 rounds combinations were flowing, power was seen in both hands. He was moving and boxing beautifully. He looked well on his way to a dominating victory over undefeated Englishman Carl Froch. Of course it only looked that way if you didn’t know it was Jermain Taylor.
Even when Taylor was beating Bernard Hopkins ( and I did feel Taylor won both those fights) you could tell something was wrong. In both fights through eight rounds Hopkins was completely flummoxed by Taylor’s speed and skills, but then each time Taylor stopped moving and stopped punching. In each fight Hopkins closed strong to make the verdict controversial. Even in easier victories against Cory Spinks and Jeff Lacy you can see a definite decline in Taylor’s performance as the fight went on.
Especially in the two losses to Kelly Pavlik this endurance problem (if that is what it is) haunted Taylor. He had Pavlik badly hurt in the first fight and was well ahead when he was knocked down in the seventh; and his worst example of not finishing is the second Pavlik fight. He came out boxing precisely and keeping away from Pavlik’s power. He was ahead after 8 rounds and then inexplicably quit punching and dropped all the last rounds on the way to a decision loss.
He looks to be in shape, so I am inclined to believe it is mostly mental. How else do you explain so many poor late fight performances against guys he dominates early. This Saturday was the worst yet. He was completely outclassing Froch early, had him down, and was slipping everything Froch threw. In the sixth, the fight changed a little and Froch landed more, but Taylor was still getting the best of it. Around round 9 Taylor quit fighting, yet he still has an insurmountable lead going into the 12th. All he had to do was stay on his feet. That proved to be too much, although I will commend him for bravely fighting back while badly hurt. 14 seconds shy of victory the referee justifiably stopped the action.
Where does Taylor go from here? He shouldn’t retire, he looked too good for the first half of the fight. He can compete with any fighter between Middle and Lt. Heavy. Whoever he does fight next, I predict he’ll look great early and if he doesn’t stop them….. well lets just say look out.