FORMER middleweight champion Jermain Taylor (33-4-1, 20 stoppages) was a breath of fresh air when he first emerged on the scene: polite, articulate, a fine athlete, if not quite the finished article as a boxer, and a lover of country ballads. Now, though, he is madder than a rabid badger on LSD and has found himself in trouble with the authorities yet again after being charged with third-degree domestic battery and aggravated assault.
The man from Little Rock, Arkansas allegedly punched a female companion before threatening her with a knife on Wednesday afternoon and is once again facing a fight to retain his freedom.
The 40-year-old shot to the top of the boxing world when twice decisioning Bernard Hopkins in 2005, but some seriously poor post-Hopkins matchmaking saw him take on a trio of southpaws — Winky Wright (D12), Kassim Ouma (W12), and Corey Spinks (W SD 12) — in fights of steadily diminishing quality before he lost the WBC and WBO titles to Kelly Pavlik, who hammered Taylor to defeat in seven rounds in September 2009.
Knockout losses to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham left Taylor on the brink only for him to stage a late career revival that culminated in a decision win over Sam Soliman for the IBF title in October 2014.
Indeed, he also found the time to engage in an almost year long campaign of carnage between August 2014 and May 2015 that included an arrest for shooting his cousin in the leg. This run led to a suspended sentence yet Taylor did still not dial down his behaviour — he was accused of biting and threatening a women last year only for the charges to be dropped.
Sadly, Taylor’s decline, which many attribute to the dual damage caused by concussion and a brain injury, seems irreversible and this latest in a long line of incidents could see the former titlist serve some real prison time. However, it might just save his life in the long-term if he can get the mental health treatment he so clearly and desperately needs.
Reiss “Showy” Taylor (2-3, 1 KO) made a name for himself as Britain’s shortest professional fighter, but this gimmick has not translated into either ticket sales or a winning run and the 4’ 11’’ flyweight has decided to move on from Jon Pegg’s Eastside gym and has joined up with Errol Johnson’s Black Country Boxing outfit.
There were rumours that the diminutive fighter felt overlooked at Eastside yet the 27-year-old has told the Birmingham Evening Mail that the split is an amicable one as he seeks to get his short professional career back on track after losing to Conar Blackshaw by DQ in April.
“With me, the issue was I wasn’t doing enough with ticket sales,” said Taylor. “That means I’ll probably end up going on the road, but, hopefully, do well on the road. You’ll see me back in the ring before the end of the year.”
Fomer heavyweight world champion Lennox Lewis has been touting his one-man show in recent weeks. The 52-year-old will take to the stage at the O2’s Indigo on September 6 and he has told Steve Bunce of The Independent that he will be candid when he talks about his career and the “politricks” that surround the business side of the sport of boxing.
“I had to deal with [Don] King back when he controlled everything,” Lewis (who retired in 2004 with a record of 41-2-1, 32 coming by KO) told Bunce. “I will share stuff that I have never shared. I will answer every question I’m asked.”
Lewis admitted that he is particularly keen to address the lingering issue of the fight that never was with long-time rival and former amateur foe Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe. Both men insist that it is the fault of the other that they never met in the ring. Lewis, though, insists that he was good to go if the right deal came along.
“Bowe never wanted the fight, his manager never wanted the fight and they made so many ridiculous demands — it was truly impossible, they demanded millions and millions,” he claimed. “The truth is they had no intention of ever making the fight happen,” added Lewis, who also stated that Tyson Fury has made the right decision by agreeing in principle to fight WBC holder Deontay Wilder after only two comeback fights.
Curtis Harper (13-6, 9 KOs) became an online sensation over the weekend after walking out of the ring a few seconds into his meeting with Efe Ajagba at the Minneapolis Armory.
The footage quickly drew a million views on Youtube and will follow the 30-year-old around for the rest of his life. However, rather than attributing his walkout to fear, the people around Harper have told Thomas Hauser of Sporting News that he felt he should have been paid more after discovering the bout would be televised.
A few years ago, Harper showed plenty of bravery when he recovered from a first round knockdown to give former world title challenger Chris Arreola a real fight. Although he lost by scores of 76-75, 78-73 and 77-74, Harper emerged with plenty of kudos and credit, and he proved his toughness to boot.
Although Ajagba was a rough fight in prospect, it seems unlikely that Harper got into the ring then quickly changed his mind. Therefore the argument that he had had enough of being over-matched, underpaid, and gambling with his health so decided to walk out in protest over his relatively small purse has some legs.
Rick Glaser, who used to represent the fighter, gave the following explanation when talking to Hauser: “What happened here was, on Aug. 12, Curtis was given a contract to fight Ajagba for $6,000. He specifically asked the person who gave him the contract whether the fight would be on TV and was told no. He signed the contract on Aug. 13 and sent it back that day.
“After that, he was treated like garbage. He and his wife didn’t get their plane tickets until Aug. 22 [the day of their flight]. They flew into Minneapolis and waited at the airport for an hour and 45 minutes before they were picked up. Then, at the weigh-in on Thursday, Curtis learned that, contrary to what he’d been told before, his fight was going to be on TV. And he still hadn’t been given a countersigned contract. So he wanted more money.”
The people around Harper were as shocked as those who viewed the clip, and the damage has now been done, yet it does beg the question of just how much stuffing the sport knocks out of the people who put the most on the line and whether it was only a matter of time before someone walked on and then walked off in protest over their treatment.
Leon Margules co-promoted the show and has called for a suspension for Harper as well as pointing out that the promoters had paid out money to fly Harper and his wife in. In all likelihood it is a moot point as Harper hardly looked like a man who wants to carry on punching for pay. Still, a hearing has been provisionally set for September 7 by the Minnesota Office of Combative Sports and Harper may never get to fight in that state ever again, truly a huge price to pay for his Jenny Aguter moment.
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