by Ted Sares
“I think it is unconscionable that Jermain [Taylor] was relicensed. “It is not about whether his brain has healed or how he looked in the gym. “Jermain has shown a predisposition to cerebral haemorrhage, and irrespective of whether or not he bled, he has shown he cannot adequately handle a punch.”—Dr. Margaret Goodman, neurologist and former physician to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, at the time of Taylor’s hearing
“Those in boxing should encourage legends and has-beens to retire, not offer them business to carry on.” —Luke Bidwell
“I’ve seen a guy who I was with at the Olympics training camp, and he can’t even talk now”—Jermain Taylor
How many times must it be asserted that brain injuries (whether bleeding as in the case of Jermain Taylor or scarring as in the case of Michael Katsidis ) should preclude a boxer from ever fighting again? Joe Mesi and Edwin Valero both got out before this toxic combination went to work. Joe was recalcitrant; Valero committed suicide. See: http://www.boxing.com/tracking_joe_mesi.html
“I talked to Jermain earlier, he is really sorry and remorseful, but does it negate the fact my brother is lying in the hospital, no. But we’re all family, we’ll work it out as a family”—Tyrone Hinton
Former middleweight boxing champion, Jermain “Bad Intentions “Taylor, was arrested on charges of first-degree domestic battery and aggravated assault after shooting his cousin. Taylor pleaded innocent. Many hoped this would end his ring comeback but it appears he will be granted bail and his fight against Sam Soliman for the IBF middleweight title fight will now materialize on October 8.
This, of course, is not the same Jermain Taylor who received numerous accolades throughout his illustrious amateur career, nor is it the person who became undisputed Middleweight Championship and beat Bernard Hopkins twice. Jermain seemingly had it all; he was 27-0-1 when he showed a proclivity for tiring in the late rounds and was shockingly battered by Kelly Pavlik in 2007, taken out in the last round by an aroused and rampaging Carl Froch in 2009, and then sedated in the final stanza by a malefic knockout at the hands of Arthur Abraham six month later. After the Abraham KO, Taylor reportedly asked people in his dressing room in what round the knockout occurred.
During a long and ominous layoff of 26 months, Taylor underwent a series of tests and then wisely went to Nevada, the strictest commission in the nation when it comes to licensing fighters, and was given a green light to fight in Nevada, though he now can be licensed in any other state.
Said Dr. Timothy J. Trainor, the Nevada Commission’s consulting research physician at the time
“As you are aware, Mr. Taylor has a history of a subdural hematoma following a boxing match in Germany in October 2009. As a result of this prior history, Mr. Taylor has undergone extensive additional testing including multiple MRI and MRA scans, neuropsychological testing, evaluation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and evaluation at the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health here in Las Vegas. He has been examined by both neurologists and neurosurgeons. All of these evaluations have demonstrated him to be medically fit to compete in boxing, not discounting the risk of head and brain injury that all unarmed combatants take….” See: http://espn.go.com/boxing/story/_/id/7040703/jermain-taylor-receives-boxing-license-nevada-state-athletic-commission
To his credit, “Bad Intentions” did come back and has won four fights (37 total rounds) against moderate opposition (though he was decked by Caleb Truax). However, Soliman, while not heavy-handed, is several levels above JT’s comeback opponents. He is a physical phenom who always comes in fit and ready and is capable of boxing circles around the stamina-challenged Taylor peppering him with flurries and perpetrating accumulative damage. Whatever the case, this has the potential for an accident waiting to happen.
In the end, “Bad Intentions” has upped the risk ante despite cautionary arguments to the contrary. In so doing, he has joined Czar Amonsot and Michael Katsidis as those who are tempting fate. Joe Mesi and Oscar Larios also did and escaped with great records and their wits intact.
As Dr. Goodman says, “I’m of the philosophy that if a fighter has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, they should never fight again…So to put them in harm’s way again, whether they fought one more time or five more times, is just playing Russian roulette with their life.” (RingTV.com / 2.14 Page 78)
Renowned boxing doctor John Stiller, Chief Physician-Md State Athletic Commission and Director of Neurology Service at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Washington, DC, also drives home the point of zero tolerance.
“If a boxer sustains a subdural hematoma (SDH) while boxing, he/she should NEVER be licensed to box again. The argument that if the boxer recovers ‘completely’ in that he/she passes all exams/tests, then that boxer is no more likely to have another SDH than any other boxer ignores the possibility of an increased susceptibility. This should be obvious in that the boxer already sustained an SDH after passing all exams/tests. If the boxer is fortunate to recover from an SDH, he/she should be grateful and not tempt fate.”
Sadly, however, Nevada has changed its policy and will now license a boxer who has suffered a SDH while boxing as long as he or she passes all requirements for licensing. The statement that was made by a physician for the commission was essentially that if the boxer passed all the tests he/she would be no more likely to sustain an SDH than any other licensed boxer. The individual who made that statement has no convincing or probative data to support it. A more honest statement would be they simply don’t know if the individual would be at increased risk.
Shame on the Nevada Commission for increasing the risk
As an aside, Michael “The Great” Katsidis recently battered a totally shot Graham “The Duke of” Earl from pillar to post on his way to a lopsided UD in Australia. But the underlying danger here was that since Katsidis won in a convincing manner, he would continue to fight-on. And sure enough, he is now scheduled to fight Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle (19-2) in the UK on October 25. Coyle is no Earle and presents a real danger for Michael– though “Boom Boom” did engage in a savage war against Daniel Eduardo Brizuela in February 2014. In which each fighter suffered an amazing 4 knockdowns.
Ted Sares is a private investor who enjoys writing about boxing. He also is a member of the Ring 4 International Boxing Hall of Fame and a member of Ring 10. A member of both the RAW and the Elite Powerlifting Federations, Ted is one of the oldest active competitors in the world and holds several state records.