by David P. Greisman
Jessie Nicklow doesn’t talk like the typical opponent selected for a former star’s first fight back.
“Tune in on December 30,” he says, “and watch me punch Jermain Taylor in the face.”
Nicklow, a 24-year-old from Baltimore, is a middleweight boxer with a full-time job, a man who works in security for a living and who has 22 wins, 2 losses and 3 draws in his side gig. His last big fight was two years ago, a stoppage loss to Fernando Guerrero.
His side gig is about to bring him to California for the biggest fight of his career — a middleweight bout, give or take a pound, with former world champion Jermain Taylor.
The bout will be Taylor’s first ring appearance in more than two years, having not fought since an Oct. 17, 2009, knockout loss to Arthur Abraham. The fight left him with bleeding on his brain and concerns over whether his career would or should continue.
Doctors have since testified that Taylor is healthy and in no more danger than he was prior to the injury.
In this interview with BoxingScene.com, Nicklow not only talks about his fight with Taylor, but also about why Taylor shouldn’t be seen solely for the four losses he suffered in his last five fights.
BoxingScene.com: Tell me about being Jermain Taylor’s comeback opponent and why you wanted this fight.
Nicklow: “As soon as they gave me a call, I said ‘Yeah, I definitely want the fight.’ It’s an opportunity, and I want to make the most of it. The whole world’s going to be able to see what I can do. I’ll be in there with another good fighter, and you know, just let everybody know where I’m at, and I’ll know where I’m at myself.”
BoxingScene.com: Where are you at right now in your career?
Nicklow: “I’m just having fun. I’m 24 years old. I got 27 pro fights. I work a full-time job, and I train when I get off work. Boxing is just fun for me. It’s not like I have to do it or anything like that. I just love to do it.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve had a couple of losses in your career. How do you think you’ve grown since those losses?
Nicklow: “I have one loss. I guess being more prepared, you know what I mean. When I had the fight with Fernando [Guerrero], I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t really go into the fight with a game plan, and I was just getting back in the gym. Now I stay in the gym all the time. Now we prepare, watch footage and things we should do.”
BoxingScene.com: Let’s go back real quick. I don’t always trust everything I read online. You said you have one loss, though online you’re listed as also having a win over George Rivera, and then two months later, in a rematch…
Nicklow (jumping in): “I have a loss to George Rivera on my record but I didn’t lose to George Rivera. I was fighting in his backyard. The fight was just crazy. George Rivera’s a piece of shit. Virginia is a piece of shit commission. Anybody that decides to do anything in boxing, I’d advise them not to go to Virginia.”
BoxingScene.com: Your contention, then, is that you got ripped off on the decision.
Nicklow: “That’s not my contention. That’s what happened. I clearly won the fight, but it is what it is. Who cares? It’s over and done with now. You win some and lose some. That’s the name of the game.”
BoxingScene.com: And then you move on. So what will it be like to fight on Showtime on the night before New Year’s Eve?
Nicklow: “I don’t really think too much of it. It’s just another fight. Another guy in front of me that wants to kill me. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to get in there and fight Jermain Taylor and show people what I’m about.”
BoxingScene.com: Jermain Taylor is coming off a long layoff. Where do you see him at this point in his career?
Nicklow: “I think that he’s a loss away from retiring and a couple wins away from being back to championship status. Everybody’s like ‘He’s done, he’s done.’ I’m not training like that. I’m training like I’m fighting the Jermain Taylor that beat Bernard Hopkins.
“Jermain Taylor moved up to 168, and he wasn’t the bigger guy and he’s fighting bigger men. Everybody’s saying ‘He’s shot, he’s done, he can’t take a punch.’ He’s getting knocked out by undefeated guys that can pretty much knock anybody out.
“Boxing critics, unless you’ve been in the ring, you don’t know what the f*ck you’re talking about, pretty much. Jermain Taylor can fight. I just go out there and do my thing, make everybody know I can fight, because I know I can. Jermain Taylor’s gonna know I can on the 30th.”
BoxingScene.com: What does a win over Taylor do for your career?
Nicklow: “It’d be big. I’d be a fight or two away from a championship shot. And I’m a loss or two away from being an opponent. It’s one of them things. It’s the timing in my life. I’ve had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. This is definitely going to be an up for me. A win over Jermain Taylor is going to set me and my future. That’s what I plan on doing. I plan on going out there and doing my thing.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want people to know?
Nicklow: “Tune in on Dec. 30 and watch me punch Jermain Taylor in the face.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]