Sam Soliman vs. Jermain Taylor on ESPN2 Wednesday night was a can’t-win fight. Nobody was going to come out of this making anyone feel warm and fuzzy. At least Taylor (complete with brain bleed and recent bizarre behavior) didn’t take a beating that made everyone fear for his health — on the contrary, he secured a unanimous decision victory.
But he only did it against a version of Soliman who looked, from the start, nothing like the version that topped Felix Sturm. Making matters worse, the aged Soliman clearly injured his right leg at some point, and that contributed to him going down at the slightest contact from the 7th round onward.
It’s not as if Taylor was all the impressive in exploiting a wounded Soliman, either. He didn’t pull the trigger much, or couldn’t. It was an ugly, awkward, clinch-filled bout. He probably didn’t win a round from the 2nd to the 6th, and allowed a limping Soliman to win the 10th. Any fighter who had a brain bleed at any point is going to be worrisome, even one who proclaims to have been tested beyond compare.
Whatever the case of Taylor’s health, he didn’t come across as a real contender. Now, some will call him “middleweight champion” because of the IBF belt he won, only without the quotes around the word. He’s set to face Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam next, and it’s possible he’ll take the kind of beating against a young fighter that Soliman couldn’t dispense on ESPN2.
On the undercard, super middleweight Andre Dirrell stepped up one more step against Nick Brinson and scored a big knockout, set up by a spectacular left hand counter. It’s time for him to get in the ring with a real contender now — he’s older, slower, but he’s not like Chad Dawson, a once blazing-fisted fighter with nothing left. Dirrell still brings some considerable tools to the ring, with explosiveness that might be less than it once was but is still formidable.
Also: Light heavyweight Ahmed Elbiale scored an easy knockout of Dakota Dawson, fighting, clearly, under his porn name; and junior lightweight Carlos Velazquez halted Jean Javier Sotelo after Sotelo spent an eternity comically rolling around on the ring following a low blow, with almost everyone doubting it was so bad.