By Keith Idec
Even if Jermain Taylor strongly resembles his old self later tonight against Jessie Nicklow, his handlers will exercise patience during the former middleweight champion’s comeback.
“We’re going to do it the right way,” said Lou DiBella, Taylor’s promoter. “It’s up to him to do his business in the ring. But when he does that, we’re going to evaluate how he looked, and he’s going to get in the ring again no later than late-April. … And by the end of , God willing, if Jermain is what we believe he’s going to be in that ring, then at the end of the year he’ll get a big opportunity.”
That shouldn’t be all that difficult, considering Taylor’s impressive resume and the dearth of recognizable, marketable boxers within the middleweight division.
“Jermain Taylor is the second-most known middleweight in the world the day he comes back,” DiBella said. “And if he can be anything like the old Jermain Taylor, fighting Jessie Nicklow, then Jermain Taylor’s the second-most significant middleweight in the world on Saturday morning. So this is very important.”
The 33-year-old Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), who became a star by twice out-pointing Bernard Hopkins in 2005, hasn’t fought since Armenia’s Arthur Abraham (32-3, 26 KOs) knocked him unconscious with one punch in the 12th round of their October 2009 super middleweight fight in Berlin. That frightening defeat represented Taylor’s second straight 12th-round knockout loss and caused the 2000 Olympian from Little Rock, Ark., to take an extended break from boxing.
Now that he has been cleared to box by countless neurological experts and has rededicated himself to training, Taylor is looking forward to regaining his star status. That process will begin for Taylor at Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, where he’ll headline a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader against the little-known Nicklow (Showtime; 11 p.m. ET/PT).
“I just feel like everybody loves a comeback,” Taylor said. “Everybody loves a comeback story. Everybody makes mistakes. That’s why I love boxing so much. You can be down and then come back and win a championship, and everything is great.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.