Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Jermain Taylor set for April 20 bout
By Dan Rafael
Former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor will continue his comeback on April 20 against Caleb Truax.
The scheduled 10-round middleweight fight will headline a tripleheader on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss.
Taylor launched his comeback on Dec. 30, stopping Jessie Nicklow in the eighth round.
"I thought Jermain had a very good performance against Nicklow after 26 months out of the ring, but what I want to see is a better performance against a slightly better opponent," Lou DiBella, Taylor's promoter, told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Taylor had not fought for 26 months, following a brutal 12th-round knockout loss to Arthur Abraham in the opening round of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic. Taylor suffered a small brain bleed in the fight and stepped away from boxing for more than two years.
Truax (18-0-1, 10 KOs), of Minnesota, is unbeaten but has faced second-tier opposition.
"Anyone who is undefeated is a different type of challenge," DiBella said. "When you've been out of the ring for 26 months, this is exactly what Jermain needs. He fought at the end of December and is coming back just a few months later. He can't just fight twice a year at this stage. He needs the activity, the rounds and the comfort of the ring.
"I thought the first performance was very good given the time off and the circumstances of why he had the time off. He sustained an injury and took time off, so there is a hurdle that has to be overcome when you get back in the ring."
After going through a battery of tests and gaining a license from the Nevada State Athletic Commission -- one of the strictest commissions in the country when it comes to licensing fighters -- the 33-year-old Taylor resumed his career at middleweight against Nicklow rather than remaining at super middleweight, where he had lost three of his four bouts, including two by harsh knockout.
For his comeback, Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) also reunited with trainer Pat Burns, who trained Taylor, a 2000 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, from his 2001 pro debut to a 25-0 record. With Burns, Taylor won the middleweight championship in his first fight against Bernard Hopkins in 2005 and a second victory against Hopkins in the immediate rematch before making a change.
"Pat Burns did a great job getting Jermain in shape," DiBella said. "He was in better shape in his fight in December than he was for some of the fights he had at the end of his first go-round.
I expect to see a more relaxed and more fluid fighter against (Truax). I think the activity is very important and we'll really be able to assess things after this fight."
Also on the card, junior middleweight contender Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs), in his first bout since a highly controversial majority decision loss to Paul Williams in July, will face former middleweight title challenger Ronald Hearns (26-2, 20 KOs), the son of newly elected International Boxing Hall of Famer Thomas Hearns, in a scheduled 10-rounder at a catch weight of 157 pounds.
Featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (19-0, 11 KOs), the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, will open the card in a scheduled eight-round bout against Dat Nguyen (17-2, 6 KOs).
The Lara-Hearns and Russell-Nguyen fights had been scheduled for the Showtime undercard of the welterweight rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto on Feb. 11. However, Berto suffered a biceps injury and the card was postponed until June 23.
Rather than keep the undercard fighters on the shelf waiting until then, their bouts were rescheduled for the next available Showtime undercard.