Last year after his second consecutive defeat at the hands of undisputed middleweight champion Kelly Pavilik, Jermain Taylor contemplated retirement.
Humiliated after being knocked out by Pavilik in the first encounter he became a stranger in his home town of Little Rock, a symbol of embarrassment after becoming the most famous Arkansas citizen since President Bill Clinton.
Taylor fought courageously each time against Pavilik, but was convincingly beaten each time.
Although it was only the first two defeats on his report card, many cast him off as a fraud with lofty expectations that could never be met.
A split decision win over Corey Spinks in his home town that set the table for a sea of doubt and ridicule and a fortunate draw against Winky Wright did not help his cause.
Then Bernard Hopkins goes out and whips Pavilik all the way back to Youngstown, and even those two title wins Taylor had against him are tainted.
People began whispering that Taylor probably didn’t deserve to win at least one of those Hopkins fights.
And just like that he goes from the darling of HBO and the sport of boxing to washed up stumble bum.
Taylor knows how Hopkins felt when they said he was finished. In this sport you are only as good as your last fight and for Jermain that was a unanimous victory over his friend Jeff Lacy in his first bout at super middleweight.
While it was his most impressive victory since the first Hopkins fight, it was against an all but finished Lacy, who by any one’s omission is on his last legs in the sport.
But for Taylor that victory was enough to earn him another title fight, this Saturday April against England’s Carl Froch for the WBC Super Middleweight title.
Undefeated, Froch is making his American debut in Massachusetts at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
Taylor trained in Miami for this fight just as he did for Hopkins and Lacy.
“I always love being in Miami for training camp. It’s where I started my professional career,” Taylor said. “My environment has a lot to do with my training and preparation for a fight. Everything always goes smooth in Miami.”
Hopefully things will go just as smooth when he meets the undefeated and untested Froch on Showtime Championship Boxing because he already knows what it feels like when things don’t go so smooth.