Jermain Taylor (born August 11, 1978 in Little Rock, Arkansas) is a professional American boxer and former undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Taylor currently has a record of 27-2-1, with 17 wins coming by way of knockout.
Taylor's amateur career was stacked with accolades beginning with the 1996
Under-19 Championship; he then won a pair of PAL
Championships and National Golden Gloves
titles and finished second and third at the 1997 and 1998 U.S. Championships respectively.
He then progressed to the next level in his amateur career by winning a bronze medal at the 1998 Goodwill Games. He also competed in the 1998 "Boxer of the Year" award in Texas, coming in an impressive 6th out of 452 entries.
A berth on the U.S. 2000 Olympic team followed. Taylor was the first boxer from Arkansas ever to compete in the Olympic Games. The progression of fights to qualify for a spot on the US Team was as follows:
Competing at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Taylor ended up winning the bronze medal. The progression of fights at the Olympics was as follows:
- 1998 United States Amateur Light Middleweight Champion. Results included:
- 1999 United States Amateur Championships at Light Middleweight. Results were:
- 1999 National Golden Gloves Champion at Light Middleweight. Results were:
Since early in his professional career, Taylor had been touted by many as being the heir apparent to middleweight king Bernard Hopkins
. Taylor dominated all of his opponents at the beginning of his career, scoring wins over respectable fighters such as Raul Marquez
and William Joppy
(although both were at the end of their careers). On February 19
, Taylor defeated the previously unbeaten Daniel Edouard
via TKO in round 3. With this win, Taylor earned a title bout against Hopkins, who had unified the four major world middleweight titles and was rated by Ring Magazine
as the #1 "pound for pound
" boxer in the world.
Taylor fought Hopkins for the undisputed middleweight championship on July 16
. Taylor was more active than the slow-starting Hopkins early in the fight, missing many of his punches but still winning the early rounds on the official score cards. While Hopkins gradually became more active and maintained his defense, Taylor continued to fight aggressively and won some of the middle rounds. Over the last four rounds, however, Hopkins became the aggressor and battered Taylor, shrinking Taylor's lead on the scorecards. Nonetheless, Taylor survived the late surge and won the fight by split decision to become the new undisputed middleweight champion.
On December 3, 2005, Taylor won the rematch against Hopkins again by a unanimous decision. All three judges scored the bout 115-113.
On June 17
, Jermain faced off against the number one contender, Winky Wright
at the FedEx Forum
in Memphis, Tennessee
. Wright surprised many by taking the fight to Taylor from the starting bell. From early on in the bout Wright was able to trap Taylor in the corners and land combinations. The bigger and stronger Taylor, who threw more punches, owned the center of the ring. His trainer, Manny Steward
, urged Taylor to stay off the ropes. At several points, Taylor seemed close to overwhelming Wright with power punches, but Wright always responded with a flurry of his own to keep the match close. Midway through the bout, Taylor's left eye started to swell dangerously.
By the end of the eleventh, the fight was close, with Wright holding a slight edge coming off a strong round. In the twelfth, he seemed to have Taylor off guard with quick footwork and strong boxing, but Taylor rallied back. The match was scored 115-113 Taylor, 115-113 Wright and 114-114, and Taylor retained his middleweight title. After the fight, an incensed Wright left the ring quickly. When Larry Merchant managed to interview him later, Wright made it clear that he felt he had done enough to win. "He didn't do nothing in the twelfth," he said. "The fans saw I won that fight." Taylor was complimentary of his opponent, saying that he did not think he had hurt Wright, whose jab was faster than the champ expected. But, he added, "If he wanted the title so bad, he should have fought all twelve rounds."
On December 9, 2006, Taylor fought Kassim Ouma at the Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The match was made because Winky Wright pulled out of a December 2nd rematch, that had been previously scheduled. Fighting in front of 10,119 in attenance, Taylor repeatedly drilled Ouma with vicious shots that included numerous uppercuts that repeatedly jolted the undersized Ouma. Nevertheless, Ouma never backed off his attack against Taylor. Taylor suffered a deep cut in the corner of his left eyelid from an accidental clash of heads in the 5th round, and despite blood periodically flowing for much of the bout, Taylor continued to hammer away and score the win by unanimous decision.
On May 19, 2007, Taylor fought Cory Spinks in Memphis, Tennessee. Taylor won by split decision over Spinks to retain his title.
On September 29
, Taylor fought undefeated Kelly Pavlik
in Atlantic City
. Taylor dropped Pavlik in round 2 and came close to scoring a stoppage, yet Pavlik bravely made it through the round and was able to get back into the fight. Coming into round 7 Taylor was leading on all three judge's scorecards but lost his title to Pavlik when the referee stopped the fight after Taylor was suddenly knocked out late in the round. In post-match interview, Jermain Taylor said "I thought I was losing so I wasted a lot of energy trying to finish him off", indicating an agreement with Pavlik who also thought he was winning on the judges' scorecards. For the fight against Pavlik, Taylor was trained by Steward.
There was a rematch clause in the contract of the Pavlik-Taylor fight, if Taylor lost. An above-middleweight rematch took place on February 16, 2008 in Las Vegas with Taylor losing by unanimous decision.
Jermain Taylor will fight Jeff Lacy on November 15 in a WBC super middleweight eliminator on HBO.
Taylor is known to be a huge fan of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks
. Taylor gained immense popularity in the state for frequently mentioning how proud he was to be from Arkansas, and has visited the Arkansas campus to talk to various sporting teams. Taylor now sports a large Razorback on the back of his boxing robe, and "ARKANSAS" is spelled out prominently on his boxing trunks.
Outside the Ring
Taylor is married to former Louisiana Tech
and former WNBA
player Erica Taylor
. He is a graduate of McClellan Magnet High School
, Class of 1997
Jermain Taylor was also a playable boxing character in the video game Fight Night Round 3.