By Keith Idec
Lou DiBella was pleasantly surprised when members of Jermain Taylor’s team informed him that Taylor wanted him to promote Taylor during his comeback.
DiBella didn’t commit to resuming that role, though, until he received assurances from Taylor’s doctors that Taylor was completely fit to fight. The emotional promoter decided after Taylor’s scary 12th-round knockout loss to Arthur Abraham in November 2009 that he wouldn’t represent Taylor anymore, but DiBella changed his mind once he conferred with the neurologists that cleared Taylor to return to the ring following a two-year layoff.
The former undisputed middleweight champion’s comeback will begin Friday night, when the onetime Olympian from Little Rock, Ark., will battle Baltimore’s Jessie Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) in a 10-round middleweight match in Cabazon, Calif. The Taylor-Nicklow encounter will headline a three-fight “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast from Morongo Casino Resort & Spa (Showtime; 11 p.m. ET/PT).
“Realizing that he had seen the best specialists in the world,” DiBella said, “from the Mayo Clinic, to the Cleveland Clinic, to experts in both Arkansas and Nevada … every doctor in the world came to the same conclusion. After reviewing all of Jermain’s medical records, including the records from Germany, they all said the same thing, which was Jermain Taylor is physically able to fight, [that] there’s no reason Jermain Taylor can’t resume his boxing career.
“I, having stepped aside, asked Jermain for permission to speak to a few of the doctors … obviously, I don’t have the right to speak to someone’s doctor unless they let me. But I was allowed to speak to a few of Jermain’s neurologists, including two of the top neurologists in the world. Both of those guys shared the attitude that Jermain Taylor was at no greater risk than any other boxer entering any boxing ring, that there’s nothing in his medical history or chart, most particularly in terms of where his brain [is] right now, to suggest that he’s at any greater risk than anybody else.”
Though Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs) suffered back-to-back 12th-round knockout losses to Armenia’s Abraham (32-3, 26 KOs), who was undefeated when they fought, and England’s Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KOs), DiBella also feels Taylor is a fresher fighter than some might think.
“He’s 33 years old,” DiBella said. “He’s never taken a sustained beating in any fight. Even when he was knocked out, he was dominating the fight against Pavlik, he was dominating the fight against Froch, and in Germany [against Abraham], if he would’ve had the ability to throw a body punch, without being warned, it would’ve been a very different fight there.
“But he never took a sustained beating in any fight, he’s not a fighter with a tremendous amount of wear and tear on him, and right now every doctor and every expert leads me to believe that, along with what I see and what I’m hearing from Pat Burns and the people around Jermain, in terms of how things are being conducted, that he’s giving himself the best chance to become a great champion again.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.