Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Forgotten Greatness – Meldrick Taylor

By Ja Lang G. Greene

Boxing is unforgiving and cruel. The sport shows no mercy towards the fighters, fans, and promoters that populate the sport. The stakes are always high; an unfocused pugilist can go from champion to chumpion in one night. There isn’t a 16, 82, or 162 game season to pad accomplishments or provide a sanctuary to individual inconsistency. Twelve rounds. One night. One fight.

Fighters once considered invincible, have been a made an example of by the sweet science because they decided to test fate and battle old age for an opportunity to stay on top. Witnessing a legend’s career brutally end oftentimes even makes the harshest critic of that fighter pay respects. After Lennon Lewis dismantled Mike Tyson by vicious KO, a large majority of the press praised Tyson for going out on his shield.

When a fighter retires, the public spotlight fades, the cheering stops, and his accomplishments become a distant memory.  Not all of them are lucky enough to garner multiple multi-million dollar paydays to live comfortably post career.

Meldrick Taylor burst unto the national boxing landscape in 1984, by earning a spot on the Olympic team as a Featherweight. The United States boycotted the 1980 games due to government political differences, so the timing was perfect for media attention. At the age of 17, Taylor went on to display a sensational style that landed him a gold medal at the games. Shortly thereafter Taylor would leave the amateur ranks compiling a career mark of 99-4. Upon turning pro, Taylor quickly established superiority over a string of lesser fighters, racking up an 11-0 record with seven knockouts. The first test of his career would come against solid veteran Harold Brazier in May of 1986. After winning a unanimous decision in this fight, Taylor was included in the world boxing rankings.

Taylor would then reel off eight consecutive victories before landing a title shot against IBF Light Welterweight champion James “Buddy” McGirt in September of 1988.  In a competitive fight that Taylor was clearly winning, McGirt was TKO’D in the twelfth and final round to secure his first world title. Over the next eighteen months, Taylor would fight four times and defend the newly acquired IBF strap twice to set the stage for a mega unification bout against WBC champ Julio Cesar Chavez.

The fight was set for March 17, 1990 at the Las Vegas Hilton. The buzz for this fight was tremendous as both fighters were widely regarded as players for the mythical pound for pound title. This battle had all the ingredients needed to make history; there was Lou Duva and Don King, undefeated US Olympian versus undefeated proud Mexican warrior, Richard Steele, and the fight was being broadcast on HBO (not ppv). Taylor entered the bout with a stellar 24-0-1 record while Chavez boasted an even more impressive 68-0 mark.


Once the fight began the artistry of Taylor became apparent from the outset. Taylor would use flurries of combinations to fluster Chavez and use the same dazzling speed to dance away once Chavez regrouped to counter. Taylor was displaying ring generalship at its best helping him to build a solid early lead on the judges’ scorecards. But even with all the sizzle, jazz, and sparks provided as the rounds continued to pass Chavez became more effective. Crushing shots to the body, uppercuts to the chin, Chavez started to land shots at will and even though he wasn’t winning all those mid to late rounds the damage inflicted by the heavier puncher was evident on Taylor’s swollen and bloody face. Heading into the last round of the fight Taylor was instructed in his corner that the fight was close and he needed to pull out the round. Chavez’s winning streak looked to be coming to an abrupt halt.

The excitement was brewing, Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant were beginning the coronation process stating that all Taylor had to do was stay away for three minutes and the greatness would his for the taking.  Everyone watching felt Taylor had built enough of a lead that losing the last round wouldn’t cost him a decision. Why did his corner think otherwise? The round began and continued to be much like the tenth and eleventh, with Chavez utilizing his second wind and pressuring Taylor all over the ring. Why was Taylor standing toe to toe in the last stanza? Because that is a true warrior’s mentality; Taylor a native of Philadelphia didn’t know another way. With less than fifteen seconds to go Taylor was caught with a hard shot and dropped. Rising from the knockdown by count of three, with the aid of the ropes, everything seemed to be in place for a normal albeit dramatic finish.

However, when Taylor got up from the knockdown he looked back to his corner (where Duva had climbed to the top of the ring apron) instead of at referee Richard Steele. Steele then stopped the fight with two seconds remaining. Two seconds. The crowd was stunned, Lampley was yelling “unbelievable” and mentioning that Lou Duva was about to go “crazy.” Taylor had fought the fight of his life and the cruelty of the sweet science had taken away his shining moment with just two seconds remaining. This fight was later named “Fight of the Decade” by Ring Magazine.

Most believe that this loss is where the career of Taylor went into a rapid tailspin. However, ten months after the defeat to Chavez, Taylor would move up to welterweight and decision undefeated Aaron “Superman” Davis for the WBA title. Taylor successfully became a champion in two different weight classes. After defending that title twice, Taylor would accept a challenge from boxing hall of fame inductee “Terrible” Terry Norris for the WBC Light Middleweight title in May of 1992. Norris would blow out Taylor in four rounds to retain his title. Five months after this defeat Meldrick would drop back down to welterweight to make a defense of his WBA title and would subsequently be knocked out in eight rounds by Crisanto Espana.

After the end of 1992, Taylor would never regain the world class level of excellence he had once achieved, fighting fourteen times in the next ten years and winning only nine of those bouts. These losses included a TKO defeat to Chavez in a 1994 rematch.

As time continues to fade and the memory of Meldrick Taylor is limited to old dusty VHS tapes and website forum postings, it is important to give respect to a fighter, who in the midst of his prime, at the pinnacle of his career, did not take the easy way out and attempt to coast to a victory. Taylor went out on his shield and though millions of dollars in future paydays dissipated into thin air after the Chavez loss, the respect gained from the boxing community for his heart is eternal and priceless.

Please send feedback to [email protected]

Tags:
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by TheEvilSaint on 01-11-2006

taylor's one of those poor guys who never got to his full potential.

Comment by jspivey on 01-11-2006

It is a shame about Taylor. He had so many skills and one fight ended everything. But that's the sport of boxing: win or go home.Champions aren't made from losing. Meldrick fought his ass off against Chavez,he didn't see it…

Comment by theironone on 01-11-2006

poor meldrick, he used to be so good

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (3)
Top Headlines Luis Ortiz: After My April Fight - I Want Wilder, Joshua or Parker! Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Receives Hero's Welcome at Home Arum Tired of Waiting, Gives Pacquiao Deadline To Decide on Horn Sullivan Barrera: Parker Fight is Another Step To a World Title Luis Ortiz vs. Derric Rossy Possible For Berto-Porter Card Froch: We May See The 'Best and Last' of Klitschko With Joshua Photos: Alberto Machado, Juan Jose Martinez - Go Face To Face Mayweather Gets Partial Win Over Ms. Jackson in Court Ruling Fonfara: Training With Virgil Hunter Will Make Me a Better Fighter Francisco Vargas Might Not Return to Ring Until Sometime in 2018 Samuel Clarkson: I'm Ready To Go To War With Dmitry Bivol! Josh Kelly will face Jay Byrne in Pro Debut on Burns-Indongo Luis Ortiz Inks Pact With Al Haymon Frank Warren Hits Golovkin With Deadline To Ink Saunders Deal Canelo vs. Chavez - Movie Theater Information Photos: Marco Huck, Mairis Briedis - Face To Face at Final Presser Joe Cordina To Make Pro Debut on Murray-Rosado Card, April 22 Roach Hopes Cotto Still Gets in Two Fights Before Retirement Mikey Garcia: If I Go Up To 140, I'd Be Interested in Crawford Fight Roach: 'I Would Love' to Have Pacquiao Fight Keith Thurman Roach: I've Changed My Mind, Golovkin CAN'T Beat Andre Ward! Anthony Joshua Reflects on His Roots, Connection To Nigeria Juanma Continues To Motivate as Clash With Entrenadorcito Nears Liam Smith Vows To Use Williams To Make Statement To Critics Video: Freddie Roach on Pacquiao, Cotto, Golovkin, More Amir Khan Not Ruling Out Conor McGregor Fight in UFC or Boxing Kennedy Katende Ready To Do Damage in Sundsvall, Sweden Abel Sanchez: Ward Will Beat Kovalev, It Won't Be Controversial Errol Spence: 30,000 Fans Rooting For Kell Brook Won't Faze Me Video: Robert Garcia on Mikey, Golovkin-Jacobs, More Marco Huck vs. Mairis Briedis: Torch Songs Video: Abner Mares Discusses His Career, Future Options Golovkin's Coach Reacts To De La Hoya's Position on June Fight Video: Richard Schaefer on Future of Ringstar Prospects, More Leduan Barthelemy Drops, Stops Reynaldo Blanco in Nine Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Jayson Velez in Play For May 5, Las Vegas Robert Garcia Fears That Age Has Finally Caught Up With Golovkin Golden Boy Prez on Linares' Future, Garcia/Lomachenko Fights Schaefer Agrees With De La Hoya's Position on Golovkin June Fight Photos: Ringstar Sports Prospects, Schaefer, Roach, Garcia Presser
Advertisement
Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement