Anyone familiar with Murphy's Law and boxing had a feeling that it wouldn't be too far into the Showtime Super Six super middleweight series before something happened that would throw the equilibrium of the tournament off. Indeed, in the opener on Saturday in Berlin, Arthur Abraham knocked out Jermain Taylor with just six seconds to go in their 12 round bout. This represents the third time Taylor has been stopped in his last five outings, and surely the fighter and those close to him will consider retirement. The 31-year old Taylor started strong, with a jab-based attack. But as has been his way, he lost steam, and his foe didn't. The 29-year-old Berliner Abraham turned in a steady, if unspectacular showing, until the 12th, when he went for broke, and hit the jackpot, Taylor's chin. A right hand came behind a hook, and exploded on the American's chin, sending him to the mat. The ref began the count, with 15 seconds left, but saw that the loser was in no shape to continue.
The official end came at 2:54, and everyone was happy to see Taylor stand up on his own power after a spell.
The Germany-based Abraham went to 31-0, while the pugilistic pride of Arkansas, Taylor, is now 28-4. Taylor told the media that this time, he was in proper shape, and their would be no repeat of his late fade against Carl Froch in his last bout, also a last minute stoppage loss. But there was not much if anything different about the American, and TSS has to wonder if he'll go ahead with his second scheduled Super Six fight. After, Abraham said he was aiming for a KO the whole time, and said he was just waiting for the prefect opportunity. The victor said Taylor hit "not so hard," and then mentioned his scheduled foe in fight two, Andre Dirrell. He hasn't yet scouted Dirrell, he said, but would be starting now. Steve Farhood talked to Taylor after. The loser said that he wasn't sure if he was winning or losing going into the last round. "He just caught me, he's a very strong fighter," he said. "A loss is a loss to me," he said, but TSS sadly feels this is not the case. A KO loss, another KO loss, indicates that quite possibly he should hang them up. He isn't taking blows the same way. We don't love to lobby guys to exit, but since too often their team won't make the hard call, sometimes it is incumbent upon keyboard tappers to exert some pressure.
In the first round, in front of a crowd of 14,000 at the 02 Arena, Taylor came out working the long jab. The upright Abraham dodged right crosses, and chose mostly to scout his foe, rather than start bombing immediately. A wide right told Taylor Abraham possessed pop, but the American kept on plan. He fired combos, and dug to the body as well. In the second, Abe was busier from the get go. Taylor landed a right uppercut to the testes which had Abe in pain, and needing a minute break. Taylor was the more mobile of the two. He threw and moved, but Abe closed the distance late, and scored smartly. In the third, Taylor's jab helped him dictate the terms of engagement, but we wondered if he could do this for 12 rounds? The crowd liked a few of Abe's rights, but Taylor could well have owned the first three rounds on the cards.
In the fourth, ref Lupe Garcia warned Taylor for straying low early. Abe's peekaboo guard kept him from taking anything too flush, but he wasn't moving his hands enough to impress the judges. Taylor's demeanor was the more fiery of the too; he seemed jazzed up, in a zone of aggression and focus. In the fifth, typically a better round for the frequently slow-starting Abraham, the Armenian-born hitter played catcher early. Was he looking to tire Taylor out, have him shoot his wad? JT slipped most of Abe's power shots nicely for most of the round, but it looked like he might be dialing in with the right late. In the sixth, Abe complained when JT strayed low, and the ref deducted a point. The shot might have been on the belt. It made sense for Taylor to aim downstairs, as Abraham covers his coconut effectively.
In the seventh, Taylor relied on the jab as his primary weapon, same as in the previous six. Would the judges give him credit for the non-power throws? The American's hand seemed slower, but his fire was still there. The men both banged each other behind the head, and indicated their anger. JT ate a left hook with seven seconds to go, after Abe sensed he was on the upswing. In the eighth, Abe's power attack had the crowd buzzing. His hands were lower, as he sensed Taylor wouldn't tag him with a meaningful launch. In the ninth, a right cross hurt Taylor. He held on, with two minutes to go. He regained his energy, and slammed home a right uppercut himself. The Taylor jab didn't have round one pep, to be sure. His left eye was puffed up.
In the tenth, Taylor jabbed, but at this juncture, it didn't have enough spice on it to bother Abraham in the least. And rarely did Taylor add an entree to the series of appetizers--it was jab, jab, move, and repeat. Where was the right hand, viewers and JT fans wondered. In the 11th, an Abraham flurry, delivered as Taylor was backed into a corner, had to impress the judges. In the 12th and final round, the ref warned Taylor for straying low, and once again, it didn't appear he was going south at all. Abe's shorts were wide open in the crotch, by the way, but he stayed on message, kept his hands high, and threw the occasional right cross with oomph. Two left hooks, and a lead right stung Taylor, as the fans smelled a late stop. Down went Taylor, off a hook-right combo. He was out, dazed, in a bad way, and the refstopped the count at seven.
SPEEDBAG Taylor suffered a concussion and went to the hospital after.
---Mikkel Kessler fights Andre Ward on Nov. 21 in the third stage one Super Six fight.