- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor will return from a 14-month layoff and face J.C Candelo in a scheduled 10-round bout on Dec. 14 in San Antonio, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer announced.
During a teleconference on Monday to promote a Showtime-televised world title quadrupleheader at the Alamodome in San Antonio -- headlined by welterweight titleholder Adrien Broner's mandatory defense against Marcos Maidana -- Schaefer said Taylor would be on the undercard.
"Al (Haymon, Taylor's manager) asked us to put him on the card and we put him on the card," Schaefer, who has a very close relationship with Haymon, told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Taylor has not fought since scoring a second-round knockout of journeyman Raul Munoz in October 2012. The fight was the third win in a row for Taylor during a 10-month span.
But before that Taylor was idle for 26 months following a brutal 12th-round knockout loss to Arthur Abraham in the first leg of the Super Six World Boxing Classic in October 2009. Taylor, 35, of Little Rock, Ark., suffered a small brain bleed, a concussion and short-term memory loss in the fight and was encouraged by those around him to step away from boxing. The loss to Abraham was Taylor's second in a row by knockout and his fourth loss in five fights, three of which came by hard knockout.
After taking time off, Taylor (31-4-1, 19 KOs), who won a bronze medal in the 2000 Olympics, wanted to fight again and went through numerous medical exams from some of the best doctors in the world, including at the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. He was cleared to fight and told that despite the brain bleed he was at no greater risk fighting than any other boxer.
When Taylor approached the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which has some of the most rigorous licensing standards in the world, for a license in 2011, it insisted that he go through additional medical testing. Taylor passed the additional tests and was licensed, enabling his ring return in December 2011 for the first of the three consecutive wins.
For the comeback, Taylor reunited with trainer Patrick Burns, who had led him to a 25-0 record, two wins against Bernard Hopkins and the middleweight championship before they split. As part of the agreement to return to Taylor's corner, Burns insisted that Taylor drop down in weight from super middleweight and return to middleweight, which he did for the three comeback fights. The contract weight for the fight with Candelo is 164 pounds maximum, according to Golden Boy.
"This opportunity for Jermain came up so we've been training really hard," Burns told ESPN.com. "He looks fantastic. He's excited and in great spirits. In the last year the highest he went up to was 177 pounds. As soon as I got here (to Little Rock for training camp) on Oct. 14, he was about 170. After two workouts he was 166, which is absolutely perfect."
Burns said Taylor's 14-month layoff was not planned, but that different fights and dates that came up fell through. "We were doing mini-camps to for him to stay in boxing shape, but the fights that were talked about just didn't get scheduled," Burns said. "The goal is take this fight and then to fight for a title next year. If Jermain continues to stay focused, trains hard and does what he's supposed to do there is no reason he can't recapture a world title. But there's a clock and it's ticking. He's 35 now, so we don't want to wait forever."
Schaefer said he understands that there are some people concerned that Taylor is still fighting after a head injury, but he pointed to the fact that the Nevada commission licensed him.
"I think people should be entitled to their own opinion if a fighter should retire or not, but it's a personal thing and I am not going to go and tell somebody they should retire," Schaefer said. "Whether Jermain should retire or not, it's not up to me to decide. Jermain Taylor is not a stupid guy. If he feels he has the necessary tools to compete, and so do the people around him, then let him do that.
"Let him try that and see where it will take him. He'll have this fight and take it from there. He and his team can make that assessment."
Taylor is not being overmatched against Candelo (32-12-4, 21 KOs), 39, a Colombia native, who was a junior middleweight contender in the early 2000s and lost a decision in his only world title fight to Winky Wright in 2003. Candelo has lost his last two bouts, including a sixth-round knockout in his last fight against Fernando Guerrero last November.