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You Have To Hope He Doesn't Come Back

BY Rick Folstad ON January 12, 2010
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Someone should pat Jermain Taylor on the back and shake his hand. Offer him a good cigar and a cold beer, welcome him to the easy life after boxing. Tell him you respect him for stepping away from the ring, even if it’s just for a year.

But it would be nice if  he considered quitting. Remind him that if he stays too long, he could lose everything.

Taylor is a rare breed. He‘s a former middleweight world champion still within reach of his prime who decided it might be best if he walked away from the only thing he’s really known for the last 20 years. He’ll give it a rest. At least for now.

He knows he can always come back. It even sounds like he plans to. You just have to hope he doesn’t. He’s always been a class act who has nothing to prove.

A Razorback who never forgets where he’s from, Taylor‘s record is 28-4-1 with 17 knockouts, the draw coming against Winky Wright. It would be nice if his record stayed at 28-4-1.

It’s easy to understand why Taylor wants to take a break from the fight game. He‘s lost four of his last five fights and he was stopped in three of those losses. On the surface, those are tomato-can, wave the white flag, get-your-butt-out-of-there numbers. But they were put up against tough guys and they don’t tell the whole story. Unfortunately, they are still the kind of numbers that don‘t sit too well with a guy who has been a winner ever since he first slipped his hands into a 16-ounce pair of sparring gloves.

Hey. This guy beat Bernard Hopkins. Twice.

But that must seem like a lifetime ago. What doesn‘t seem to be that long ago are his two losses to Kelly Pavlik and his heartbreaking 12th round knockout losses to WBC champ Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, both KOs coming just six months apart. That’s a tough year.

In a statement released Tuesday, Taylor, 31, said he was going to take some time off from boxing and withdraw from the SHOWTIME Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament featuring six of the best super-middleweights in the world.

His loss to Abraham in Germany in October put him in the second leg of that tournament and left him in line to fight WBA champion Andre Ware in April. That fight won’t happen. Shouldn’t happen. And don’t worry about SHOWTIME bouncing back. It’s resilient. Someone will be moved up or shuffled in. They’re already talking about the winner of the Allan “Ghost Dog” Green - Sakio Bika fight on Feb. 5 as a good pick to replace Taylor.

But more important than the tournament is Taylor’s well being. He was hospitalized following the loss to Abraham, suffering short-term memory loss, which is a scary thing in the fight game. That’s when his promoter, Lou DiBella, realized it was time to cut his former champion loose, saying he didn’t want to see Taylor fight anymore.

Good for DiBella.

Despite the warning signs that he might be taking too many shots to the head, Taylor didn’t slam any doors shut with his announcement. He’s more than hinting that he’ll be coming back after his leave-of-absence or whatever you want to call it. Me, I’d like to hear him call it retirement.

“It’s important that I give my body and mind some much needed rest because I have been boxing for nearly 20 years,“ Taylor said in his statement.

As a sorry side note, he said he planned on staying in shape and making a return to the sport sometime in the future.

Maybe.

Or maybe he should think about a career change, maybe something in advertising or real estate or even in fight promotions. That would keep him close to the game.

Talk to DiBella. He’ll help set you up. Just make sure you follow his lead so when the next Jermain Taylor shows up at your door and eventually starts taking punches he never took before and he can‘t remember what he had for breakfast, you pull a DiBella. You cut him loose and tell him to step away.

And you pat him on the back and offer him a good cigar and a cold beer.

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