Taylor claims another title

Published 8:38 am Friday, October 10, 2014

I had my doubts that he was up to the challenge, but Little Rock’s Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor came through.

Taylor dominated Australian slugger Sam Soliman en route to a unanimous decision victory Wednesday night and captured Soliman’s IBF World Middleweight championship. The bout was the main event on the stacked card and was televised by ESPN.

The Taylor-Soliman bout headlined a 14-fight card.

Taylor improved to 33-4-1 with 20 knockouts. It wasn’t Taylor’s best performance of his lengthy career, but it was good enough to get the job done against the awkward Soliman, who fell to 44-12, 12 KOs.

It was disclosed afterward that Soliman was fighting basically on one good leg after tearing a medial ligament in his right knee around the seventh round in the fight. Obviously hobbled by the injury, Taylor took advantage of the situation and decked Soliman four times, including once in each of the seventh, eighth, ninth and 11th rounds.

The 36-year-old Taylor was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world in his heyday. He first won middleweight championships in 2005 and held them until 2007, when was defeated by Kelly Pavlik. In 2009, Taylor was knocked out in the 12th round by Carl Froch in a bid for the WBC Middleweight title.

Taylor fought at the Beau Rivage in February 2012. He was knocked down by Caleb Truax in the ninth, but won a unanimous decision.

Wednesday’s main event was full of holding and hitting and a lot of wrestling. But when Soliman injured his knee, it was pretty much target practice for Taylor. Even when they fought in close, Soliman simply fell several times.

“I’m loving it,” Taylor said in the post-fight press conference from his dressing room. “The second time is always better. Soliman came to fight, but I got the job done.”

The official judges had Taylor winning by scores of 116-111, 115-109 and 116-109. I had Taylor winning 119-107.

“I didn’t know I was winning until they raised my hand,” Taylor said. “He came to fight.”

Top undercard bouts had world super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell TKO Nick Brinson at 2:12 of the fourth of a bout that was scheduled for 10, and cruiserweight contender BJ Flores stopping Kevin Engel by KO at 1:52 of the third round.

Notables in attendance included top-rated heavyweight Deontay Wilder, Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillen, former heavyweight champion Chris Byrd and WBC Super Middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell, Andre’s brother.

Being there for the action was great. I hope it doesn’t take another two years to bring big-time boxing back to the region.

Randy Hammons is staff writer for The Daily News. He can be reached at 732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com.