BOXING TOURNAMENT HAS SPOT FOR TAYLOR
Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
If Showtime gets what it wants, Jermain Taylor will be part of an
unusual round-robin super middleweight tournament that starts in the
fall, ESPN.com reported over the weekend.
Taylor, the former middleweight champion from Little Rock, is in
line to fight Arthur Abraham in the undefeated Armenian’s adopted
home of Germany on Oct. 10, according to the report. The fight would
be one of the preliminary bouts in a tournament Showtime senior vice
president Ken Hershman is trying to put together that would not end
until the summer of 2011.
Abraham, the IBF middleweight champion, is 30-0 with 24 knockouts.
The other fighters in the tournament would be WBC super middleweight
champion Carl Froch, the Englishman who knocked Taylor out in April on
a Showtime telecast; WBA super middleweight champion Mikkel Kessler;
WBO super middleweight champion Andre Ward; and Andre Dirrell, who
had held the WBO super middleweight title on an interim basis.
Taylor also would be committing to fights against Ward and Kessler,
according to the report.
Taylor’s trainer, Ozell Nelson of Little Rock, declined to comment
when contacted Tuesday and deferred questions to promoter Lou
DiBella. DiBella said he was not "at liberty to talk about the
situation", but neither DiBella nor Nelson denied talks between
Taylor’s camp and Showtime.
Sources close to the situation in the Taylor camp said discussions
are under way, but Showtime spokesman Chris DeBlasio said the network
had no comment.
It would be Taylor’s first fight as a professional outside the
Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs) is 1-3 in his past four fights and has
the worst record among the boxers the cable network wants in the
tournament. In fact, the only other boxer among the six with a loss is
Kessler (41-1, 31 KOs). Taylor would be one of three Americans in the
event, joining Ward (19-0, 12 KOs), of Oakland, Calif., and Dirrell
(18-0, 13 KOs), of Flint, Mich.
If Taylor fights Abraham, it would be the fourth time in Taylor’s
past five fights that he has faced an unbeaten opponent. Froch was
24-0 with 19 KOs before knocking Taylor out late in the 12th round of
his most recent bout. Kelly Pavlik was 32-0 after he took Taylor’s
WBC and WBO belts in September 2007, and Pavlik made it 33-0 after
their catch-weight rematch in February 2008.
Abraham most recently defended his IBF middleweight belt with a
10th-round technical knockout of Mahir Oral on June 27 in Berlin in
a Showtime bout.
Tournaments of this type are rare. HBO tried something similar in
the 1980s with heavyweights, which resulted in Mike Tyson unifying
The proposed super middleweight tournament isn’t a singleelimination
event. According to ESPN.com, each fighter would commit to a series
of bouts. The semifinals and final would be determined by a points
system based on victories and knockouts.
According to the proposed schedule: Froch would defend his belt against
Dirrell in Great Britain on the same telecast as Taylor-Abraham.
Kessler would defend his title against Ward on Nov. 7 in the United
Abraham would then fight Dirrell on Jan. 30 in the United States.
Froch would face Kessler in Denmark or Great Britain next spring.
Taylor’s second bout would be against Ward in the United States,
also next spring and possibly on the same date as Froch vs. Kessler.
Ward and Dirrell would fight in the summer of 2010 in the United
States in a matchup of 2004 Olympic teammates. (Ward won the gold;
Dirrell won the bronze.) Kessler vs. Taylor would take place in the
United States in September 2010.
The semifinals would be January 2011, and the final, which would be
in the United States, would be in May or June 2011.