By Keith Idec
Jermain Taylor realizes now that he should never have fought at super middleweight.
The former middleweight champion went 1-3 in super middleweight fights after losing his WBC and WBO 160-pound titles to Kelly Pavlik in September 2007. His lone super middleweight win came against faded former IBF 168-pound title-holder Jeff Lacy, whom Taylor comfortably out-pointed in a 12-round WBC elimination match in November 2009.
The 33-year-old Taylor honestly cited laziness as his real reason for leaving the middleweight division, to which he’ll return tonight against Jessie Nicklow in Cabazon, Calif. (Showtime; 11 p.m. ET/PT). Taylor’s 10-round fight against Baltimore’s Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) will mark Taylor’s first action since Arthur Abraham knocked him unconscious in the 12th round of a “Super Six World Boxing Classic” clash two years and two months ago in Berlin.
“These two years that I had off, it just woke me up,” said Taylor, who also was stopped by Carl Froch in the 12th round of their WBC super middleweight title fight in April 2009. “I was fighting at 168. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I was just lazy.”
Taylor’s training habits have often been a cause for concern, even when the Little Rock, Ark., native was in his prime. He has reunited with trainer Pat Burns, however, and promoter Lou DiBella is convinced Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs) is training the way he did when he was the younger, hungrier fighter who ended Bernard Hopkins’ 10-year middleweight championship reign 6½ years ago.
“I’m very comfortable working with him right now,” DiBella said. “I’m particularly comfortable knowing that he has rededicated himself to boxing, that his weight is no longer an issue. Look, I’ve got a lot of friends in Little Rock also, and what you hear from Little Rock from people I know that know Jermain, and people that Jermain knows, is that this is a new Jermain Taylor. Or maybe more accurately, this is a lot more like an old Jermain Taylor.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.