It took 2,567 days for Jermain Taylor to regain the middleweight title that he lost to Kelly Pavlik in 2007. Bad Intentions knocked down Sam Soliman four times last night to regain the IBF’s share of the crown that once sat on his head without dispute from any other claimants.
Taylor, who shot to ring stardom after ending Bernard Hopkins’s 20-fight championship reign nine years ago, plummeted back to obscurity almost as quickly after subsequently suffering three brutal knockouts to Kelly Pavlik, Carl Froch, and Arthur Abraham.
Taylor endured a brain bleed after the Abraham KO, which forced a layoff of more than two years. When he decided to return, his promoter decided to split. “I think it is unconscionable that Jermain was relicensed,” neurologist Margaret Goodman opined after his return, saying the former champion “has shown a predisposition to cerebral hemorrhage” and “cannot adequately handle a punch.”
Last night in Biloxi, Mississippi, Taylor benefited from another fighter’s in-ring injuries. Sam Soliman controlled the early rounds. But a knee gave out on the Australian in the seventh, enabling Taylor to capitalize and handicapping Soliman from planting on his punches. Taylor sent Soliman to the canvas in the seventh, eighth, ninth, and eleventh. Taylor won his fifth straight post-comeback fight on the strength of those 10-8 rounds by scores of 116-111, 115-109 and 116-109.
Though Miguel Cotto owns the lineal title that Taylor lost to Pavlik by virtue of his June victory over Pavlik vanquisher Sergio Martinez, the Arkansas native stuns by holding a belt of any sort. Once among the top handful of fighters pound-for-pound in the world, Jermain Taylor receiving a title shot, let alone capturing the crown, was regarded as a joke by boxing insiders. Soliman showed amazing resiliency last night. Taylor has done so over the last few years.
“I heard it before,” Taylor said of “champion” prefacing his name. “And I’m hearing it again.”