STRUTH! Taylor dominates Soliman

Last Wednesday evening in a middleweight IBF world title fight, which seemed to fly under the radar, Jermain ‘bad intentions’ Taylor became a world champion… again. In a fight which occurred more than five years after Taylor’s last world title tilt and a weight division lighter, the Arkansas native seemed to look rejuvenated in a dominant points win over Sam Soliman, felling the Aussie multiple times en route to a win which read 116-111, 115-109 and 116-109 on the judges scorecards.

Taylor returned to the middleweight division after an ill fated stint up at super middleweight where he suffered devastating back-to-back KO defeats to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham which resulted in a temporary retirement.

So, seven years on since Taylor last held a legitimate world title and at the tender age of 36 how and why has Taylor been able to re-establish himself amongst the worlds elite? In my opinion there are three reasons:

1) Al Haymon – this man is absolutely brilliant when it comes to pitting his fighters against the world’s best and the reason is simple… He doesn’t match based on names or reputations, he matches his fighters based on their fight styles. Haymon and Taylor (and a small handful of observers) knew that Soliman was made for Taylor to look great against and so it played out that way. I expect that Taylor will be very carefully managed from here on in making routine defences against very beatable top 10 ranked opponents, such as: Geale, N’Dam, Macklin, Strum etc. However, don’t expect to see him in with Golovkin anytime soon.

2) Taylor is technically very, very good – people remember Taylor’s fall from grace and his defeats to Pavlik, Froch and Abraham but seldom recall that this is one of only five people to hold a victory over Bernard Hopkins. Not only did Taylor beat Hopkins, he out boxed him and he did it at middleweight when Hopkins was the king of the castle AND he did it twice.

3) Taylor seems mentally strong – Taylor’s mentality was questionable in every fight he had post the first Hopkins fight. That first fight seemed to take a little something out of him and even during wins in the Hopkins rematch and versus Spinks he looked extremely vulnerable. Besides blowing a hole in his cousin recently, Taylor looks to be in a good frame of mind. He approached this fight confidently and boxed confidently throughout. No lapses of concentration and no fading down the straight.

All in all it was a very good performance from Taylor and I for one am happy to see him back in the mix with the big boys of the middleweight division. On a side note, big respect goes to Sam Soliman for withstanding four knockdowns, appearing to have an injured knee and still making it to the final bell.

What goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors

Anthony Joshua has been in impressive form since turning professional just over 12 months ago, racking up nine straight stoppage victories and celebrated his first anniversary in the paid ranks by blitzing Denis Bahktov inside two rounds last weekend.

The Russian was supposed to be a (small) step up in class for ‘AJ’ and whilst nobody really expected Bahktov to win, most observers thought that it might go a little longer than it did. One thing that Bahktov will confess to is that the former Olympian possesses some serious firepower and most heavyweights in the world will struggle to keep their senses intact if he detonates a bomb on their cranium.

A former Olympian heavyweight with serious firepower, sound familiar? The forgotten prospect, David ‘I emphasise my scouse accent’ Price was ringside on Saturday evening and immediately talked up a potential future showdown between the two big hitters.

I don’t believe that it was coincidence that Price was ringside or that he seemed very interested in this fight, it makes sense on a lot of levels and with both fighters having promoters who have spent the best part of six months blowing smoke up each others arse, the fight should be easy to make. However, what may strike some fans as unusual is, why? Why would Price, who is still in a transitional period since back-to-back KO defeats to Tony Thompson, want this fight? In short, he genuinely fancies the job.

It is quite well known that Price and Joshua sparred each other in the build up to the 2012 Olympics and both have kept quite tight lipped about how them spars went. However, the word on the grapevine (and please remember that boxing rumours are like a game of Chinese whispers) is that Price did not only get the better of the spars but that he completely dominated them.

This would explain why ‘big’un’ fancies the job and this may be quite key in a what would be sure to be a huge all British showdown… And when I say huge, I mean PPV, so get your account number and CVV number at the ready.

The reason I think the sparring will be such a key factor is that, similar to what was detailed about Jermain Taylor, Pricey is a test for anyone in the world if he is mentally switched on. Having the physiological advantage from that spar should allow Price to enter the fight with confidence and really let his hands go right from the off and I do believe that Price is the bigger hitter.

Having said that, a spar is a spar and things can change significantly under those bright lights with the associated pressure and not to mention those tiny 10oz gloves. Notwithstanding, since that time Joshua has progressed significantly and Price’s career has stalled through defeats and injuries therefore: the aforementioned psychological advantage may result in Price creating this illusion that he is fighting the same young amateur fighter he sparred over two years ago. The advantage may actually become a disadvantage.

One thing I think is certain if this fight is to happen is it won’t go the distance! A couple of other things which make this fight really interesting are: Price will land at some point and when he does we will see 1) whether Joshua can take a good shot and 2) if Price’s demons come out to play when things don’t go to plan in the first few rounds.

So, if and when it happens who are you backing?

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