Is there such thing as a straightforward world title attempt? No matter the weight class, age or circumstances, every bout at the top level of boxing has its perils.
From the hard-hitting punches of Gennady Golovkin to ruthless and punishing efficiency of Guillermo Rigondeaux, top-level boxing is a dangerous ask and title challengers are required to be fighting at their prime. Both mentally and physically they must be able to perform at their body’s capacity; Kell Brook peaked on all fronts in his win over Shawn Porter last weekend.
Continuing past their sell-by date
So how can it be that a fighter who once suffered a potentially threatening brain bleed can ever lace up the gloves again?
One simple question can be posted to former unified titlist Jermain Taylor: Why?
Past greats such as Muhammad Ali and Joe Louis have been posed the same questions, current legends Roy Jones Jr and James Toney are asked too. A reluctance to call it aday can damage a reputation, but can more importantly cause serious long-term issues.
It’s almost as if boxers have refused to take notice of Ali’s steep decline, now barely able to mumble a few words as decades of high thrills-and-spills action quickly caught up with him.
Rather than see former greats return to the ring, boxing fans are staunchly against it for one reason only – the fighter’s safety.
Jermain Taylor on comeback trail
There’s little surprise that Taylor’s scheduled IBF middleweight challenge at Sam Soliman has been met with discontent across the boxing fraternity.
Taylor had it all. He became a unified champ with victory over Bernard Hopkins and defended his titles a number of times, becoming a national star in America. Kelly Pavlik handed him his first defeat but ‘Bad Intentions’ rightly continued, partaking in the lucrative Super Six middleweight tournament.
That tournament was to shape Taylor’s career – for all the wrong reasons.
After a twelfth round stoppage loss to Carl Froch when he was ahead on all judges’ scorecards, Arthur Abraham delivered another brutal knockout. Left motionless on the ground, Taylor repeatedly asked people in his dressing room afterwards what round he’d been knocked out in.
Alarm bells rang immediately and it was confirmed he suffered a brain bleed, leading to what most people thought would be a permanent retirement from the ring.
Why come back?
Maybe Taylor takes inspiration from Hopkins, still riding high at 49-years-old, but there is a succinct difference - the ‘Alien’ has never been knocked out and possesses a frighteningly effective defensive strategy.
In Taylor’s defence, he hasn’t jumped straight back into the ring immediately following that defeat. After two years out, the now 36-year-old passed all required medical tests before re-entering the squared circle.
Over the past two-and-a-half years he has also won four bouts, at which point he must have withstood blows of some sort.
But the opposition was minimal, not world title standard. Let’s hope Taylor comes through safely on 4th October and remembers the day for the rest of his life.