Jermain Taylor no longer has to be referred to as a “former” middleweight champion, as he is now a two-time middleweight champion after defeating Sam Soliman wednesday night for the IBF title.
Taylor (33-4-1 20 KOs) earned a unanimous decision victory (116-111, 116-109, 115-109) over the Australian champion, who was making his first defense of the title earned last October versus Felix Sturm.
This was the fifth straight victory for Taylor in his comeback trail after a 26 month layoff following his knockout loss to Arthur Abraham in the 12th round of their 2009 fight.
Soliman (44-12 18 KOs) seemed to have the advantage in the early rounds and landed several effective right hands. He was making it extremely difficult for Taylor to land clean shots due to an awkward style and constant movement, which led to many tie-ups by both fighters. However, Taylor refused to let Soliman’s awkward style frustrate him. He found opportunities to counter punch and was able to land short left hooks and overhand rights of his own.
The turning point in the fight came in the seventh round when Soliman appeared to injure his knee, which we later found out was a training camp injury that nearly caused him to pull out of this fight.
“Soliman is a warrior. He did the same thing I would have done,” Taylor told ESPN. “You have to keep fighting in this sport.”
Soliman battled through the second half of the fight on basically one leg, making it essentially target practice for Taylor, who scored four knockdowns from round seven on.
The fight saw Soliman on the mat numerous times due to slips and was clearly struggling to have any push on his back leg. Soliman’s corner and referee nearly stopped the fight on multiple occasions.
For Taylor, it is a breath of fresh air to be back in the mix in a division he once dominated. He had gone through and passed a number of rigorous medical tests entering Wednesday’s fight, but aside from health concerns, many questioned whether he should be allowed to fight at all. Taylor was charged with a pair of felonies in August after allegedly shooting his cousin multiple times during a domestic dispute.
He put aside all the distractions and negativity and was able to come away victorious
In attendance for Taylor’s victory against Soliman was IBF mandatory challenger, Hassan N’Dam, who became Taylor’s mandatory challenger by defeating Curtis Stevens on Oct. 1, and unbeaten Peter Quillin, who recently vacated his WBO middleweight title in hopes for bigger and better opportunities.
“I just thank God and Al Haymon,” Taylor told ESPN. “Thank you Al Haymon, we did it, baby! We coming home with the belt. Who is next? I want whoever Al Haymon puts in there. Whoever Al Haymon says, that’s who I am going for. I have never dodged anybody in my career.”