By Keith Idec
Lou DiBella didn’t try to sell Jessie Nicklow as anything other than he is.
Taylor’s team of handlers picked Nicklow for Taylor’s comeback bout because he is a mostly unimposing opponent with a solid record. The Baltimore-based Nicklow is someone Taylor would’ve dominated during his reign as middleweight champion, but a reasonable opponent for Taylor’s first fight in more than two years.
DiBella called Nicklow “a very, very tough guy, a rugged, big middleweight. Frankly, to be honest, not the kind of guy that would’ve been given a lot of chance to beat Jermain Taylor in his prime. But right now, as much as I’m optimistic and we’re all optimistic about where Jermain stands, he hasn’t fought in a few years and the last couple of fights of his career were not his best. And if Jermain’s not at his best Friday night, then Jessie Nicklow’s exactly the kind of guy that’s going to show it.”
Taylor, of Little Rock, Ark., and Nicklow will meet in a 10-round middleweight fight that’ll be the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader from Cabazon, Calif. (Showtime; 11 p.m. ET/PT).
The 24-year-old Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) is 3-2-2 in his last seven fights. His two losses came against Fernando Guerrero (22-1, 17 KOs), who stopped Nicklow in the fourth round of their December 2009 fight in Hinckley, Minn., and George Rivera (13-7, 4 KOs), who beat him by unanimous decision in an eight-rounder in November 2008, in Fairfax, Va. Nicklow had beaten Rivera by unanimous decision in his previous fight, also an eight-rounder.
Even a rusty, 33-year-old Taylor will represent a step up in competition for Nicklow, who also has settled for draws with Julius Kennedy (7-3-1, 3 KOs), John Mackey (13-6-3, 6 KOs) and Matt Berkshire (11-3-2, 5 KOs) during his nearly six-year pro career.
“I really appreciate the opportunity,” Nicklow said. “I’ve been in the gym all year. We had eight weeks of preparation for this fight. I’m feeling really good, I’m on weight. If Jermain ain’t where he should be, I’m going to be the first one to know that. I’d like to thank God for the opportunity that he’s blessed me with, and I’d like to thank [DiBella]. I’m going to go out and show the world Friday night what I can do.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.