Even ‘A Little Death’ is too much for some brains to handle


Boxing …

Oh you wicked wanton harlot of a sport, you!

Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in … Only to give me an attack of the guffaws, as I struggle to take the situations you can create seriously.

Indeed, boxing promotion can be host to a rich tapestry of characters. A vast world concentrated into a microcosm cordial, that at times like these past few weeks and days, can be as impossible to swallow as a chunda-sprinkled shit sandwich.

Two of the ‘Looniest Tunes’ being sold as ‘Merry Melodies’ involve Australian boxers. Two old foes in fact. One I’ll discuss today is Sam Soliman, 40 years old and FINALLY – after an athletic journey full of setbacks (some desperately unlucky, some stupidly self-inflicted, as I’ve covered previously on the Almanac) – now a bona-fide Middleweight Champion.

Sam talked a big game before Gennady Golovkin drilled Daniel Geale. After? He signed to fight Jermain Taylor. On ESPN2. Eschewing a prized appearance on Premium Cable HBO – Soliman’s first in over seven years, since he fought Winky Wright – for the less prestigious secondary basic cable channel.

An off-season addition from those who bring Friday Night Fights to an average US audience of about 1 million each week. And whose regularly scheduled season just ended with another Australian Daniel Dawson, being beaten by former World Champion Austin Trout, in a thankfully intermittently competitive and exciting contest.

After talking so big about Golovkin, snatching this opportunity while in negotiations with his management, eschewing the far more prestigious unification match, in favour of … a fight against a washed up, critically injured former Champion, who hasn’t beaten a top-ranked middleweight since 2007?


Well. In my piece about Soliman a few months ago, I did mention the Al Haymon option as a possible alternative for him. I just thought he would go the way of current top ranked boxers like Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs. Both titleholders. Both nominally on the opposite side from Golovkin, of the uncrossable highway of Boxing’s Present Day Cold War. etween promotional companies Golden Boy (revealed recently as, among other things, a hollow contractless proxy promoter of Haymon advised fighters, not signed to them at all) and Top Rank, the last remaining major player from the 80’s promotional ‘revolution’ which reduced boxing to the margins of the sporting consciousness it exists in today.

Sure, Don King Productions & Main Events still exist, but they operate on fumes as compared to the High Octane Premium Oil that still drives Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum. But that fuel is as nothing to the nuclear fusion of hatred Arum has for Haymon. Thus the ‘Cold War’.

Al Haymon is an extremely wealthy man. And although notoriously publicity shy, his quest to control as many aspects of the Fight Game as he possibly can, has not only caused ‘Mt. Arum’ to erupt against him, it got his previous benefactors fired from HBO and virtually all fighters he holds paper on banned from appearing on the network.

Oh! HBO also happens to be the network to which Gennady Golovkin is exclusively signed to appear on.

By getting involved with a Haymon fighter, Soliman and his team may be signalling their intent to stay as far from Golovkin as possible. Or, this may be a one-off deal. A licence to print easy money against a washed up fighter, whose previous medical history points to a greater likelihood of him dying in the ring than posing any actual threat to Soliman’s Middleweight Title.

That’s because in 2010, having campaigned as a Super Middleweight over the previous three years, and having recently been knocked out in the last seconds of a fight he was clearly winning on the scorecards, Jermain Taylor entered a six-man tournament known as the Super Six.

Three American and Three ‘International’ fighters would compete in a Round Robin event, which was planned in order to crown an ultimate Champion in the Division. Taylor’s first tournament bout was scheduled against Arthur Abraham, the longtime middleweight titlist fighting out of Germany, who had decided to move up in weight permanently to compete in the Super Six.

The fight was in Germany, Taylor’s first professional fight on foreign shores. And it was a brutal beatdown. Abraham slowly and meticulously tenderised Taylor before brutally separating him from his senses in the 12th and final round. In post-fight checks after he was hospitalised, Taylor was found to have bleeding on the brain – the dangerous pre-cursor to a potential blood clot and swelling on the brain.

Taylor was told what every boxer diagnosed thusly ever has been. ‘You should never fight again’. And he didn’t. For over two years, Taylor stayed away from boxing. However, as a result of an inexplicably dangerous, precedent setting decision, the supposedly strictest Commission in the sport, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, approved Taylor’s reinstatement.

One of the conditions of that reinstatement was that Taylor promise not to fight above Middleweight, a weight he hadn’t made since he lost his Title to Kelly Pavlik in 2007, and blamed the draining weight loss on his fadeout in a fight he started with explosive dominance.

How is that remotely responsible?

Taylor has fought four times since. Against nondescript nonentities and delusion inducing has-beens. His last fight (where certain moronic sections of the boxing blogosphere credited him with looking sharp) was against JC Candelo, a former top junior-middleweight contender in 2004/5, who hasn’t ever been competitive at Middleweight, and hasn’t been remotely relative in elite boxing circles for at least eight years.

And that qualifies Taylor for a shot at a ‘World Title’? Puhleeeeeeez!

It makes me ill, sick in the guts just thinking about the damage a light-powered volume puncher like Soliman could do, to someone whose brain is as vulnerable as Taylor’s is. That’s because contrary to ridiculous ‘expert’ commentary belittling the threat, because Soliman is not a puncher, that there is what makes the situation so dangerous.

Repeated blows to the head over a contracted period of time – like a high intensity twelve round prizefight – heighten the likelihood of the brain’s delicate defenses being compromised. The fact the guy hitting you doesn’t hit hard enough to knock you out means, instead of taking a few jolting blows your brain might shut your body down to allow you to recover from, you spend up to fifty minutes being hit … over and over. Your brain rattled again and again inside your skull.

The already compromised tissue, perhaps dehydrated dangerously to ensure you make weight, further tenderised into oblivion. Why would any sane person allow Jermain Taylor to risk this?

Well, in an ironic twist, Taylor himself might have nullified his own opportunity, after being arrested for shooting his cousin multiple times in his own home in a suburb of Little Rock, Arkansas.

There will no doubt be more to be heard here, especially since the announced charges from the local police seem relatively minor, (aggravated assault, domestic battery) compared to the injuries inflicted – putting said cousin in hospital in a serious condition, due to multiple gunshot wounds.

Either way – and I apologise if this sounds glib – whatever keeps Jermain Taylor out of a boxing ring, is best for his health. Short AND long-term.


  1. Gregor,
    I was surprised as you when I read about this fight.
    The loss to Kelly Pavlik finished Jermain Taylor.
    After that he just kept getting knocked out.
    There is nothing like boxing when the combatants are evenly matched.
    When they are not, boxing is merely the red light district of profession sport.

  2. Gregor Lewis says

    Too true Matt.

    Boxing at its worst is backalley Amsterdam. The bright, historical facade hides a stormy netherland of dark chaos and desperate danger.

    My main worry here is twofold. If Sam fights atypically, complacent in the knowledge he is facing a shot fighter, Taylor will box his ears off. Under no threat of physical pressure, Taylor’s still imperious jab will control the fight.

    Taylor’s problem is that he lost the physical wherewithal to engage after the first Pavlik fight and everything else just collapsed thereafter.

    Six minutes after his best round of the fight against Froch, he fell apart … then got knocked out.

    Then in the Abraham fight, his opponent’s economical output just prolonged the torture, until Taylor’s collapse became that much more precipitous.

    Which brings me to my second concern. Sam Soliman is not a sharp puncher, but every punch he lands will have some concussive effect.

    If he fights Taylor the same way he fought Sturm, he will kill him. I am 99.99999% certain of it.

    Whether it be on the night, or the continuation of Taylor’a degeneration since 2007, a vintage Soliman performance will alter Taylor’s life irrevocably … for the worse, at the very least.


  3. I’m wondering if you saw Jermain Taylor fight Winky Wright??
    Wright couldn’t punch through fog, but he swelled Taylor’s eyes and almost bashed him senseless.
    The judged awarded the fight a draw, which was BS.
    Solimon isn’t as measured and accurate as Wright, but he throws with the same intent, touch him up, all the time.
    Taylor should’ve stayed retired. Fighters never learn.

  4. Gregor Lewis says

    Interesting example Matt.

    Taylor vs Wright is one of the last fights I taped on VHS, before I got a DVR. Thus, I remember it well.

    Wright was no knockout puncher, true. But he was razor sharp, with beautifully tight footwork complementing taut technique.

    As I saw it, the fight was Taylor’s intermittent surges battering fruitlessly against Wright’s adamantine resolve and classy counters.

    I seem to remember the late great trainer Emmanuel Steward – in his first fight in Taylor’s corner – almost losing his mind. So beside himself was he at Taylor’s inability to get untracked.

    Being hit by compact, sharply timed shots can do that to you.

    Steward was so animated because he could see, every time Taylor let his hands go with intent, he would put Wright in a shell he was then able to manoeuvre adroitly with his beautiful jab. Taylor just refused to understand (with alot of help from Winky to be sure) that as long as he stayed judicious, he was having his arse handed to him.

    I had Wright up by three points going into the final round. More of the same from him would have given him a routine 8-4 victory in my mind.

    But I’m not a boxing judge and Wright made a critical error by coasting, giving Taylor the last round and the draw on the official cards.

    Silly, silly, man. You never expect integrity in boxing.

    You fight to the end. Until they make you stop. Putting rounds in the bank in your own mind is an invitation to cry larceny afterwards in so subjective a sport.


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