Jermain Taylor-Sam Soliman: Weird or Was It just Me?
In a fight heavily criticized for more than one reason, the victim who took the brunt of that negative appraisal, Jermain Taylor becomes the new IBF middleweight champion after beating Sam Soliman via unanimous decision (116-111, 115-109 and 116-109). The fight took place at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, broadcast on ESPN2.
It was an ugly affair as soon as the first bell sounded and Soliman’s herky-jerky style was to blame. As a result, both fighters were in more of a hug-fest rather than a boxing match for the first few rounds that were nearly impossible to score accurately anyway. Eventually Taylor found a home for the stiff jab he has used his entire 13-year career in the idle rounds. From then on, the tide turned his way. In the seventh, Taylor landed a jab that forced Soliman to the canvas, resulting in a knockdown. Subsequently, Soliman seemed to immediately switch gears from his awkward style into more of an aggressive one. Soon enough, the 40-year-old was in survival mode toward the end of the round and actually touched the canvas with his glove near it end but it wasn’t ruled a knockdown by referee Bill Clancy.
The following round was when everything noticeably changed. After getting knocked back from a punch by Taylor, Soliman stepped backward and his legs seemingly tied in a knot. After beating the referee’s count, he walked around the ring with a distinct limp. It was clear his right leg was hurt and we later learned from the ESPN2 broadcast tea that Soliman had surgery on that same knee back in 2007. After surviving the round, Soliman’s corner could be heard telling the Australian it would give him one more round before they throw in the towel. Soliman went into the ninth and was dropped yet again for the third consecutive round. But the corner stoppage never came to fruition, even after Soliman could be seen hopping around on one leg and falling to the canvas a handful of times after either slipping or being off-balance. Although Soliman’s fortitude couldn’t be matched, it was difficult to see such a blatantly injured fighter try and finish the fight. For good measure, Taylor knocked Soliman down one last time in the 11th, summing up the total to four.
After being diagnosed with a brain bleed in 2009 and being arrested for shooting a family member in the weeks leading up to the fight, Taylor, 33-4-1 (20), becomes a 160-pound titleholder for the second time in his career. A majority of fans and those in the boxing media questioned whether or not Taylor should be vying for a title in the first place, mainly for fear of his health. Nonetheless, he won the title fair and square. Last week, the IBF held an eliminator for the same middleweight title between Hassan N’Dam and Curtis Stevens, resulting in an N’Dam victory. Theoretically he will be Taylor’s mandatory but these days, nothing is guaranteed – especially with Al Haymon advising his career. As for Soliman, 44-12 (18), the world title that eluded him for his entire career slipped away in his first defense. His injury hasn’t been diagnosed as of yet but the Aussie’s career is officially up in the air.
Nick Brinson Enters the Matrix
On the comeback trail, super middleweight contender Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell stopped Nick Brinson after referee Keith Hughes called a halt to the bout in the fourth round. The stoppage came while Brinson was bottled up in the corner but only after being stunned by a brutal counter left hook he didn’t see coming. That counter landing on Brinson’s chin resounded in the arena as well on television sets and probably could have been ruled a standing eight-count by Hughes. Luckily for Brinson’s safety, it didn’t last long thereafter. Dirrell, 23-1 (16), takes a step forward on his comeback trail and with Al Haymon advising his career, his going forward is likely to bare plenty of opportunity. Brinson, 16-3-2 (6), a 27-year-old who normally fights in the 160-pound division, suffers his second loss in a row and will likely go back down to a class that better suits his comfort level.
I can confidently say that I’m in the majority when labeling October 8 a sad night for boxing. There was no positive to take from any of the fights. Besides the two aforementioned bouts that involved both a mismatch and a fighter with serious health issues (mentally and physically), there were two “bonus” matches sandwiched between both during the ESPN2 broadcast. One involved a prospect in Ahmed Elbiale easily knocking out an IHOP cook in Dakota Dawson (whom our own Managing Editor, Coyote Duran playfully referred to on Twitter as a “griddleweight”). The other centered on Carlos Velasquez beating Jean Javier Sotelo with unprecedented results. Sotelo was unable to recover from a low blow, took the entire five minutes to recover and had no visible desire to even try and continue, losing via TKO in two rounds. When you look at his 19-13-2 record for the 39-year-old, you can’t help but put two and two together. It makes you wonder why these fights were even televised in the first place.
Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the terrible job done by the referee in the Soliman-Taylor fight, Bill Clancy. It was a clinch-fest with blatant holds and not once did he pay any heed to either fighter’s dirty tactics. There were two occasions in which Soliman’s glove touched the canvas and the knockdowns weren’t ruled. Perhaps they were “make-up” calls because two of the four actual knockdowns rewarded to Taylor could have been argued as slips. Clancy also missed tape hanging off both fighters’ gloves and never stopped the action to fix the issue. Hopefully I’m not the only one who noticed Clancy’s inconsistent job. Ultimately it was a night that could fit the bill as the sport’s proverbial black eye but luckily, for those boxing fans on Twitter, you enjoyed a humorous night as opposed to a simply depressing one.