Up-and-coming middleweight Jermain Taylor (21-0-0, 16 KO) continues to tread water rather than take steps up in competition. His recent opponents have been carefully selected merely to put another win on his resume, and the December 4th bout against William Joppy is no different.

Taylor has risen to the top of the middleweight crop while looking nearly unbeatable in doing so, and as such is unbeaten. How good Taylor really is will ultimately be decided when he finally takes a step up and meets a top 160-pound fighter. As has been the theme with Taylor’s recent opponents who were in over their weight, Joppy is in over his head.

Victim number twenty-one was Raul Marquez, a veteran fighter with a good record against decent competition. Marquez had pretty much been a career junior middleweight and was physically overmatched and dominated until his corner stopped the bout against Taylor in the 9th round.

Previous to that Taylor took on another mid-level fighter who was in over weight. This time it was junior middleweight Alex Bunema who qualified to meet Taylor. Bunema is a natural 154-pound fighter and had lost each time he stepped up his level of opposition. Against Taylor Bunema looked to be the much smaller man, which he was, and was subsequently out-boxed for twelve uneventful rounds.

Moving right along the story is much the same. Rogelino Martinez, a junior middleweight who moved up for the one fight against Taylor in 2003 and was disposed of inside of seven rounds. Alfred Cuevas, a former junior middle fringe belt holder with seven career losses, lasted twelve rounds with Taylor that same year. Nicolas Cervera, a former Colombian Light Welterweight champion who later campaigned at 154 and then was dropped four times in the fourth round by Taylor hasn’t fought since. Marcos Primera . . . well, you get the point. And the point seems to be that to fight Jermain Taylor, something has to be wrong.

Along comes Joppy.

The last time we saw William Joppy in a boxing ring, well, we weren’t even sure it was him. Joppy survived twelve brutal rounds in December of last year with Middleweight King Bernard Hopkins and the fact that he lasted that long was to his own detriment. After 36-minutes of taking every punch in the book thrown by “The Executioner” to his head and body, William Joppy was a mess. His face was a lump of a swollen jaw and puffy cheekbones, leaving a face that only a mother could love, if only she were capable of recognizing him enough to the point where she could pick her son out of a police line-up. Joppy took the type of sustained beating that sends fighters into retirement, and that is exactly what Joppy did.

After the one-sided fight Hopkins said, “Joppy is done. He probably won’t fight again.”

At the age of thirty-four retirement sounded like a good idea for Joppy. After his drubbing at the hands of Hopkins and being dropped three times previously in a TKO 5 loss to Felix Trinidad, Joppy had a few circuits shorted and could hang them up knowing he had a solid professional career as evidenced by his 34-3-1 record. Now he will find out under the bright lights of Taylor’s hometown in Little Rock, Arkansas if he made the right decision to come back.

In taking on William Joppy, Jermain Taylor will be following a tested and true blueprint for success. He will be fighting in his own backyard, taking on an opponent eight years his senior who has been out of the sport and retired for a year and whose last ring memory was looking up at the stadium lights as Hopkins pummeled him with head-snapping shots in Atlantic City.

Hopkins was right on one count and wrong on the other with his post-fight comments regarding Joppy. Yes, he is done. But no, he will fight again.

On December 4th, Taylor will dominate Joppy with textbook jabs, slick combinations and speed, sending his opponent back into retirement. As we have seen in previous Jermain Taylor bouts, nothing will have been ventured and gained.