Jermain Taylor won the IBF middleweight title by beating Sam Soliman on points in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Wednesday night. The former undisputed champion won 116-111, 115-109 and 116-109. His Australian opponent battled to finish the 12-round bout because of a leg injury.
Taylor, now 36 years old, was inactive for two years after suffering a severe brain injury but returned to the ring in 2011. He improved his professional record to 33-4 and one draw and is undefeated in five fights since his comeback.
Taylor was regarded as the undisputed middleweight champion after defeating Bernard Hopkins in 2005, but retired in 2009 after losing four of five fights over two years.
Soliman, who turns 41 next month, took command in the early rounds but was forced to his right knee when Taylor landed a strong jab in the seventh. He then favoured the leg to the end of the fight.
Taylor knocked the champion down in the eighth and the Aussie fell again before a right hand to his chin sent him falling backward, unable to keep weight on his right leg. He fell again in the ninth in evading a powerful right hand from Taylor, who sent him to the canvas once more with a left jab at the end of the 11th round.
The former dock worker, whose record fell to 44-12, had suffered a torn right knee ligament when he lost to fellow Aussie Anthony Mundine in 2007. He also lost to Mundine in 2008 but then won nine fights in a row.
"It wasn't an injury that came back because of bad luck. It was because of Jermain," Soliman said. "If he wasn't as good a fighter as he was, he wouldn't have come up with the goods."
"I'm not going to take up table tennis just yet," Soliman said when asked if he might retire.
Soliman had held the title since beating Felix Sturm on points last May. He had also won against Sturm in 2013 but the result was changed to a no-contest after Soliman tested positive for a banned stimulant, leading to a nine-month ban.