Come hell or high water, the cynical IBF middleweight title defense pitting defending champ Sam Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs) against semi-retired, one-time brain-bleeding, alleged defendant in a pending shooting case Jermain Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KOs) must go on.
The announcement that the 40-year-old Australian world titlist would be defending against the former middleweight champ raised a fair amount of criticism among media and fans, who worried aloud for the safety of the thrice-bludgeoned Taylor.
Back in 2009, it was thought that the Arkansas native’s career was over when he suffered a subdural hematoma following a brutal twelfth-round knockout at the hands of Arthur Abraham as part of Showtime’s Super Six super middleweight tournament. At the time, even promoter Lou DiBella severed ties with the fighter, giving credence to the idea that, for his own safety, Taylor would never enter a ring again.
But, of course, this is boxing and two years later Taylor returned to the ring, waving before him the results of passed physicals and with the full approval of state boxing commissions.
Since his return, Taylor has faced low-level opposition and has not looked very impressive despite registering a 4-0 record since his comeback. Apparently, though, he did enough to gain the attention of IBF champ, Soliman and his people.
Then, just a couple of weeks after the title fight was confirmed, news broke that Taylor had allegedly shot his cousin in an altercation outside of his home.
But gun play and pending trial be damned, Soliman-Taylor MUST happen. And so it shall.
On October 8, ESPN will air the IBF middleweight title fight as a “special” boxing feature with a comeback-minded Andre Dirrell rumored to be on the undercard. Former promoter, DiBella, is also back in the picture and co-promoting the card with Warriors Boxing and Soliman’s promotional company.
The bout, itself, is not without intrigue. Taylor against Gennady Golovkin, for instance, would’ve been an instant invite to a manslaughter conviction for the promoters. Soliman is, by no means, a Golovkin in the ring and part of the intrigue involved in this bout is that Taylor could win.
But, really, Soliman-Taylor is just kind of pointless. Neither one is realistically moving on to bigger and better things. And to make matters worse, there will be the ongoing debate attached to this promotion of whether everyone involved is taking a huge gamble with the 36-year-old Taylor’s life and well being.
Everyone had a chance to back out of this questionable match-up when Taylor got arrested. Instead, they doubled down on their questionable call and are gambling that nothing truly ugly happens.
For the sake of the sport and for Taylor, hopefully they win that bet.