SAN ANTONIO — Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor ended a 14-month ring absence by dropping Juan Carlos Candelo with a left to the chin, followed by a right to the temple for a seventh-round technical knockout on Saturday night at the Alamodome.
A 35-year-old veteran who is the only fighter that can claim two victories over Bernard Hopkins, Taylor (32-4-1, 20 knockouts) pitched a virtual shutout to win for the fourth straight time on the undercard of Showtime’s Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana card.
Referee Wilfredo Esperon stopped the fight with Candelo on the canvas at the 2:58 mark.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is considering bringing Taylor back on Jan. 25 for a card in Washington, D.C., that will feature junior middleweight Jermell Charlo against two-time middleweight title challenger Gabriel Rosado, in support of a junior middleweight main event between IBF titleholder Lamont Peterson and mandatory challenger Dierry Jean.
“That would be a blessing, to fight in D.C.,” said Taylor, who had not fought since stopping Raul Munoz in the second round in October of 2012. “I felt comofortable tonight, even though I wasn’t always getting my punches off. It felt good to get back into the ring, though, definitely.”
Taylor had lost four of his previous five fights, two of them by 12th-round knockout, before ending a 26-month ring absence with an eighth-round stoppage of Baltimore’s Jessie Nicklow in December of 2011.
Prior to facing Munoz, Taylor had to rise from a ninth-round knockdown for a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Caleb Truax in April of 2012.
In Candelo (32-13-4, 21 KOs), Taylor faced a 39-year-old veteran who was last in the ring for a sixth-round stoppage loss to Fernando Guerrero in November of 2012.
“I got the jab going, but I think that I waited too much when I did have him taking punishment and I had him on the ropes. I think that I could have gotten out of there a lot earlier if I had thrown more punches earlier,” said Taylor. “But it was definitely good to get some rounds in. That was perfect, so I guess that you can’t complain, because a win is a win.”
At Friday’s weigh-in prior to the fight, Taylor said that he embraced Hopkins for the first time.
“That was wierd,” said Taylor. “That was the first time that I talked to B-Hop. I didn’t think that he liked me and I pretty much didn’t care for him either. But our talk was pretty good.”
Longtime trainer Pat Burns reunited with Taylor for the Nicklow fight, having guided the Arkansas native to a mark of 25-0, with 17 knockouts before being replaced in 2006 by Emanuel Steward, who died on Oct. 25 of 2012 at the age of 68.
“I just wanted to get his work in, get the jab going, and we knew that he has a hard jab and that when he went to the body, that it was just a matter of time,” said Burns. “He was trying to survive, and I think that it’s a lot harder to get someone out of there when they’re trying to survive.”
Prior to Nicklow, Taylor had suffered frightening 12th-round knockouts against both Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham in April and October of 2009, the latter prompting his withdrawal from Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Classic tournament.
Taylor received a CT Scan and an MRI as well as other testing in the days after the loss to Abraham. He was diagnosed with a concussion, short-term memory loss and bleeding on the brain. But Taylor was unanimously approved for a boxing license last September 2011 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
In 12 of his previous 13 contests prior to Nicklow, Taylor’s opponents had been men who were titleholders at the time they faced Taylor, or had been previously.
The lone man who had not worn a crown 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 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 consecutive 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. After earning a decision over Jeff Lacy in his super middleweight debut in November 2008, Taylor lost to Froch.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org