Thirty-three-year-old Jermain Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), a bronze medallist at the 2000 Summer Olympics, is entering the boxing ring again on Dec. 30 after a layoff of two years. Taylor will be taking on Jessie Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) in a 10-round bout at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon, California. Taylor is a former undisputed world middleweight champion who is best known for two consecutive wins over Bernard Hopkins in 2005. He’s been out of action for the past couple of years after being knocked out in three of his last four losses.
Taylor underwent several neurological tests before deciding to fight again and doctors gave him the green light to resume his career, saying he wasn’t at any more risk than other boxers. The fight against the 24-year-old Nicklow will take place in the middleweight division, which is 160 lbs. Taylor’s last three bouts against Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch, and Jeff Lacy were all fought at 168 lbs. in the super middleweight division.
However, Taylor has actually lost four of his last five fights and was knocked out by Kelly Pavlik, Froch, and Abraham, with the knockouts against Froch and Abraham both coming with just seconds to go in the fights which were part of the Super Six Boxing Classic Tournament. Sandwiched in between the four losses was a 12-round unanimous decision over Lacy.
Nicklow hasn’t fought anybody of note during his career up to now and doesn’t really have much in the way of power, which is just what Taylor needs at this point in his career. He does have age on his side, but is more or less and eight-round fighter. Taylor’s been a pretty good boxer throughout his career and is somebody who doesn’t rely on knockouts for victories. He shouldn’t have a problem outboxing Nicklow, but if he does, or even gets hurt during the fight, then it’s time for him to hang up the gloves for good. Look for Taylor to take his comeback fight by unanimous decision.
Sharing the bill in Cabazon will be Andre Dirrell (19-1, 13 KOs), who’s also fighting for the first time in two years. Like Taylor, Dirrell was also an original participant in the Super Six Tournament and had to pull out due to head injuries before it was completed. Dirrell will be taking on fellow southpaw 37-year-old Darryl Cunningham (24-2, 10 KO’s) in a 10-round super middleweight tilt.
The 28-year-old Dirrell is generally regarded as one of America’s top boxers even though he’s not the most exciting guy around. He lost a split decision to Froch in the Super Six event and was then hit while he was on the canvas in the 11th round of his fight against Abraham in March 2010. Dirrell won when Abraham was disqualified, but his injury has kept him on the shelf since then.
Cunningham’s a decent fighter, but at his advanced age he shouldn’t really pose much of a problem to Dirrell. In addition, he’s also a light puncher with a mediocre knockout record. Look for Dirrell to take him out by a late KO or unanimous decision. Both Taylor and Dirrell are taking on relatively safe opponents in their comeback bouts and that isn’t really shocking news. However, if either of them loses, that’ll definitely be a shock.
Sportsbook 5dimes.com has the current odds of Taylor beating Nicklow at -5000 and a Nicklow win at +2000. A win for Dirrell is at -1700 with a Cunningham upset at +950. Visit 5Dimes.com to place your bets.
Written by: Ian Palmer