On July 16, 2005 Bernard “the executioner” Hopkins was going for a record setting 21st title defense against the man many expected to be the next great thing in the middleweight boxing division- Jermaine “bad intentions” Taylor.
Taylor vs Hopkins
On that evening in the MGM Grand garden arena in Las Vegas, Hopkins would go on to lose for the first time in over twelve years to a man 14 years younger. The same outcome would occur in the rematch as Jermain Taylor would win once against the veteran who many thought at the time would call it a career after two defeats in a row all while entering the ripe old age of 40.
Taylor was expected to be the next great boxer. HBO had signed the 26 year old to a multi-year deal. A fighter who was not only good in the ring but had a charming and respectful demeanor outside of the ring. He had a strong following from his fans back in Arkansas and was a networks dream and unlike previous fighters HBO signed Taylor would face any opponent that was put in front of him.
However in the next couple years Taylor would go on and have lackluster defenses against opposition that was no where near Taylor’s level, surprising struggles against Kassim Ouma, Cory Spinks and a questionable win against a crafty Winky Wright, started the rumor mills churning in regards to Taylor’s focus, dedication and skill.
In February of 2007 Taylor’s fairy tale came crashing down when he faced a boxer by the name of Kelly Pavlik.
While many boxing insiders viewed this as Taylor’s fight to lose and early on it looked as if Taylor would walk through the up and coming Pavlik with two knockdowns in the 2nd round. However in the 7th round, tables were tuned and eyes were opened as Pavlik stopped Taylor with a hard right that crumbled Taylor in the corner. In the rematch 7 months later just as Taylor once again beat Hopkins, Taylor would go on a lose a unanimous decision to Pavlik.
Meanwhile Hopkins would face some of his biggest and toughest challengers since the back to back losses to Taylor as he has since faced Antonio Tarver, Joe Calzaghe, Winky Wright, Oscar De La Hoya, Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal (twice)and this weekend for the second time in less than a year, Chad Dawson. Hopkins has went on to win all the fights except a loss to Calzaghe and a no contest to Dawson.
Jermaine Taylor the man to hand Hopkins his 1st loss in twenty tries fought this past weekend. However while Hopkins has seen somewhat of an re-emergence in the fight game and has consistently faced high level of competition the last few years, Taylor has went in the other the other direction. After his two losses to Pavlik, Taylor has went 3-2 in fights with both losses coming by knockout to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham. While many will say Taylor was winning the Froch fight, in the 12th he ended up getting caught and getting knocked out. The knockout to Abraham brought much concern as he was held over night at the hospital from the brutal knockout. The loss to Abraham also led Taylor to leave the sport of boxing andTaylor did not fight for over 2 years until he stepped back in the ring the past fall.
Many are calling this his comeback however it’s still too early to tell if Taylor is backfire good or just a paycheck, it was almost spoiled as he was once again got knocked down by Caleb Treaux this past weekend. A fight that Taylor was winning fairly easily but still showed he was there to be knocked out.
Hopkins on the other hand is 47 years old and has shown little signs of wear. Hopkins himself has said he may fight until he is 50 and he may be able to fight for another 3 years and still be pretty competitive. However the same can not be said for Taylor. Taylor may be able to regain his champion form but if this past weekend is any indication to him being back, it is still too early to tell. Many fans feel that he should hang em up for good;for his health and most importantly because many do not see Taylor becoming better but more likely to be knocked out similar to what many fans have seen from Roy Jones Jr.
A boxer that at the height of his career was untouchable but now he’s regelated to a name on an up and coming fighter resume.
December 3, 2005.
Bernard Hopkins faced Jermaine Taylor for the second time.
It was a night that changed both fighter career paths. However it has not ended the way many expected. Hopkins should be long retired and not facing a dangerous opponent at light heavyweight this weekend in Atlantic City.
Jermaine Taylor should not have been on Shobox Friday night fights this past weekend against a little known fighter making his comeback trail at 33 years old. But just as no one knows what will happen when two men enter the ring, no one could have expected Taylor to go from middleweight champion to retired to comeback in 7 years. Then again his story his more likely than Hopkins never leaving and proving at 47 years old he’s far from finished.
Funny how the 7 years later from their first fight,that in April 2012 Hopkins and Taylor end up fighting a week apart but in very different boxing matches. One still on top and one trying to get back on top.