Everyone was there, everyone except Taylor. If ever a fighter had a good excuse for not showing up at a press conference, Jermain Taylor is the guy. The Taylors welcomed their third child, Laila Jayden, an 8 lb. 9 oz. baby girl into the world, and with Mrs. Taylor running a mild fever, Poppa Jermain stayed by his lovely wife Erica’s side.
Taylor had chance to talk to the media, albeit for a short time, but he did, nevertheless, get a chance to address the media by a phone hook-up.
“I’m looking forward to the fight,” said Taylor. “I’m looking forward to getting back in with Kelly. I made a lot of mistakes,” added the former champion.
“I’m not going to make no excuses. I’m going to go in there and take care of business. I know I got a lot to prove to everybody. Right now my wife is here in the hospital. My wife just had a baby. The baby is doing fine.”
He finished his call by letting everyone know that he has a brand new love for the sport of boxing. It has been said that he was never a real fan of boxing, but it is just something that he does well.
Bob Arum explained how he and his co-promoter Lou DiBella will handle ticket sales. He pointed out that often a promoter will grab a large chunk of tickets and sell them for more than the regular ticket price.
“The fight is at the MGM Grand (in Las Vegas on HBO PPV), approximately 16,000 tickets,” explained Arum. “If it is not sold out on the first night, the first day it goes on sale your promoters grab thousands of tickets and there’s nothing left for the public. And the hope is that a thousand dollar ticket can be sold to some moron for ten thousand dollars. I don’t believe in doing things that way and neither does Lou.” The question is who does do business like that?
Both DiBella and Arum have been attempting to clean up the business of promoting. Recently they have been co-promoting to bring their fighters together. Last week they joined up with Joe DeGuardia to put together a show in the Bronx. This is just another example of their efforts. Boxing will benefit from forward thinking like that. If the promoters think of the fans ultimately it will come back to them in the form of ticket sales in the long run.
This writer believes that both Arum and DiBella are sincere in what they are saying. They see how helping the industry as a whole will be good financially for them from successfully run shows.
Nigel Collins of Ring Magazine presented Pavlik with The Ring’s championship belt. He pointed out that, “The former champion Jermain Taylor didn’t have to fight Kelly Pavlik. He didn’t have to give Bernard Hopkins a rematch, but he did, and I think it’s only fitting that he’s getting another crack right away,” said Collins.
“These are the kind of fights that we want. These are the kind of fighters that we want. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. They’re doing it because they want to fight the best.”
Arum proudly announced that the WBO named the Taylor-Pavlik fight, the Fight of the Year.
One more honor was bestowed on Pavlik. To go along with the Fight of the Year, and The Ring Championship belt, the WBO named Pavlik its Fighter of the Year. The rematch will be fought at the agreed catch weight of 166 so Pavlik’s title will not be on the line. It appears that both men will benefit by the added weight. Before the first fight Taylor had already announced that that fight would be his final one at 160 pounds.
“I’ll be comfortable,” said Pavlik. “At 166 I’ll be stronger. I’ll have more strength and I’ll be ready to go.” Pavlik can lose this fight, but remain as champion. How will he feel?
“I’m not thinking about that. I fight with a lot of pride and I don’t want to give up that zero,” said Pavlik.
His record is still perfect at 32-0 (29). He handed Taylor his first loss as a pro. Taylor’s log stands at 27-1-1 (17). Pavlik knows all about the possibilities for him at 168 but he is thinking about Taylor right now. “First his excuse was that making 160 is highly impossible,” said Pavlik. “And then more than the fact that he probably would lose, now it’s the money situation. If he would have lost and had the rematch at 160 it would have been 75-25 my split. So everything turned out right so that’s why we’re at 166.”
Will he see 160 again?
“Oh yeah, in my very next fight after,” said Pavlik. He knows that 168 and 175 are the places to be. “Oh yeah, 68 is a big weight class right now. There are a lot of great fighters at that weight class, and at 175.”
He is also quite interested in a possible fight with the Calzaghe-Hopkins winner. As far as the shot that put him down against Taylor in that second round he said that he never lost consciousness at all. It was an equilibrium punch behind the ear.
“I lost my legs,” explained the champion. Taylor admitted after their fight that he shot his wad trying to knock Pavlik out after the knockdown. That raises the question of Taylor’s conditioning.
“Not good,” responded Pavlik. “If you get tired in the second round, you know that that’s not good. And with his experience, it goes to show that for intelligence he didn’t show a lot in that fight.”
Pavlik suffered a hand injury when he was working with glass a number of weeks ago but he said that he is feeling fine and is not suffering any ill affects from the mishap.
Pavlik’s trainer has a day job; he lays cement when not getting his star pupil ready to fight. His work with that young man has gotten him a nomination for Trainer of the Year. His name is Jack Lowe. “I expect the best from Jermain,” said Lowe. “We took something off of him that he had for a long time. On the other hand we have it now and it’s going to be a hell of a thing to get it off of us also. We will definitely not be taking this fight lightly.”
Lowe was respectful of the opponent’s team, and that is how these professionals have been behaving all along. “Regardless of who is in his corner,” added Lowe. “I’m glad Ozell is back. He did a great job with him in the amateurs and he was with him throughout his pro career, and I expect nothing but the best out of him and Jermain. I expect that Jermain will be fully prepared for this fight but on the other hand so will we.”
Taylor is taking his fight preparation back to his roots. Up until he won the title he was trained by Pat Burns. As soon as Taylor won the title Burns was replaced by the legendary Manny Steward for all of his title defenses including the loss to Pavlik.
This fight will see a reunion of Taylor and the man who shaped him from a young age. From the age of thirteen Jermain Taylor has had Ozell Nelson as a father figure and a trainer. Steward was replaced because although he did a fine job preparing Taylor to fight, there were problems with personality and communication between Taylor and Steward. No one is blaming anyone for Taylor’s loss, they just want to do all that they feel they can do to win the rematch. As to Steward’s demise as trainer, there is no animosity. It was a business decision and all remains peaceful.
“Everything was going good in the gym,” said Nelson. But when it came to fight night it was like a communication gap.”
This reporter asked Nelson how it was possible for Taylor to run out of gas so early in a fight as important as the one he lost?
Nelson explained that it was a career spent squeezing into 160 pounds. “You got to understand that Jermain is 29 years old and he’s been holding that weight for seven years. I knew that weight was going to be hard for him to maintain. That’s why we’re coming back to fight him at the catch weight of 166. That’s why he blew his wad. He didn’t get his second wind back. That came from making 160.”
Nelson made it official, “We are going up to super middleweight in the future,” he announced. Nelson explained some changes that will take place; Taylor will keep his hands up, he will not be backing straight back, and he will be in much better shape. He will also not go hog wild if he has his man hurt. “He will,” said Nelson. “Take his time.”
PUNCHLINE That aforementioned show in the Bronx last week featured Yuri Foreman taking a close controversial decision and the NABF Light-Middleweight strap from Andrey Tsurkan. According to Arum, Yuri, who is Jewish, plans to become a Rabbi. As usual Arum is ever the promoter, full of ideas.
“I thought at first that people were pulling my leg,” said Arum. “Mike Marley said that Yuri was becoming a Rabbi. But that’s true, he is. So I see Jim Borzell out there, and Jim handles John Duddy. So,” he said to Borzell, “can you get John to go to Seminary? What a fight, a Priest against a Rabbi, and I’ll get somebody from Nevada who’s Mormon to referee the fight.” Sounds like an idea