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Q&A: Trainer believes Taylor's career deserves more credit
Jermain Taylor's resume includes 12 major titleholders over the course of his past 14 bouts, including two victories over future hall of famer Bernard Hopkins.
Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor had lost four of his previous five fights, two of them by 12th-round knockout, before ending a 26-month ring absence with December's eighth-round stoppage of Baltimore's Jessie Nicklow.
The matchup with Nicklow represented a reunion with longtime trainer, Pat Burns, who had guided Taylor (29-4-1, 18 knockouts) to a mark of 25-0, with 17 knockouts, before being replaced by Emanuel Steward in 2006.
Burns and Taylor will be together, yet again, on Friday night, when the boxer takes on unbeaten Caleb Truax (18-0-1, 10 KOs), of Osseo, Minn., on Showtime.
In this, the second part of a Q&A with Burns, the corner man laments Taylor 'slost luster despite an otherwise solid career.
In 12 of his previous 13 contests prior to Nicklow, Taylor's opponents had been men who were either titleholders at the time of they faced Taylor, or, who, at some point, were once beltholders.
The lone man who had not worn a crown during that time was Daniel Edouard, a contender who brought a 16-0 record with nine KOs into the ring before being stopped by Taylor the third round in in February of 2005.
Otherwise, Taylor's unbeaten run under Burns included consecutive victories by split and unanimous decision over Bernard Hopkins in July and December of 2005, the first of which earned Taylor the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO middleweight belts. The loss to Taylor was the first for Hopkins in 12 years, ending his record run of 20 consecutrive title defenses.
Taylor left Burns for Steward after the bouts with Hopkins, and subsequently battled through a draw with former 154-pound champion Winky Wright in June of 2006 at a time when Wright was regarded as one of the sport's premiere defensive wizards.
After facing Wright, Taylor earned decision wins over southpaw former titleholders Kassim Ouma and Corey Spinks. Taylor also dominated ex-titleholders Raul Marquez and William Joppy by ninth-round knockout and unanimous decision in June and December of 2004, respectively.
Taylor was 27-0-1 with 17 knockouts when he suffered his first loss -- a seventh-round knockout to Kelly Pavlik in September of 2007. Burns shared more of his thoughts on Taylor below.
RingTV.com: What is it like to be back with Jermain?
The first two minutes of training together, it just felt like we were never apart. It's just one of those things. It just instantly worked. It felt good. There wasn't a whole lot to say. We just wanted to get to work, and that's exactly what we did.
And then, all of a sudden, around the fifth round, I saw where he started to get a little loose, and his hands started to fly a little bit. Then, I noticed in the sixth and the seventh round, Jermain was back to having fun.
His hands stared to fly. And then, of course, in the referee came in and stopped it. But it gave me something to build on, and I'm building on what I saw in the sixth and the seventh rounds.
I would have liked to have gotten a clean knockout, but I have no control over that. The referee did what was best for the guy that we were fighting. But we're building on that sixth and seventh round.
I saw the old WD 40, you know, the stuff you spray on the old bolts and nuts that start to go squeak? I saw that starting to go to work on those joints coming back. The tightness started to disappear. That was the best part of that fight.
Jermain was going from shooting a jab that was going out at 120 miles an hour to probably 160 miles an hour. The old rust was wearing off the bolt. This were starting to move a lot better for him, and that was basically it.
He's listening. He's living the life that a champion needs to live. There's no extra curricular activities. He's showing up to camp weighing 169 or 170 pounds.
You know, sparring is not a world title fight, so it's not the actual fight. But we work on a lot of things. Even in the jab, he's got a little extra on it. It's almost like every time tha he punches, he's trying to hurt somebody.
But he wants to do it with a little more hunger. Jermain's the big wolf in the woods, you know? He's fighting with a little more viciousness. He's a little more ferocious.
RingTV.com: Do you have any sort of goal in mind or expectation concerning Taylor's performance?
I want him to be sharp and I want him to get all of the nicks and burrs off. I want him to really smooth that blade out and to be really, really sharp with both hands. I want to see good lateral movement.
Photos by Jeff Julian, Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com