Jermain Taylor should be watching, not fighting, on great year-end card

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime will close out what has been one of the best years for boxing in a very long time with an outstanding card, one filled with entertaining, competitive matches.

Buried amid that deep card, however, is a familiar name.

Jermain Taylor, the former undisputed middleweight champion, will fight Juan Carlos Candelo in a 10-round bout at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

His appearance on the card revives an age-old question in boxing, one that has dogged the greats, like Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones Jr., as well as the not-so-great: Why?

Taylor is 35 years old, and has already suffered a subdural hematoma. To his credit, he took more than two years off after he had the bleed on his brain against Arthur Abraham, and he passed all of the tests to allow him to compete.

But as we've learned from Frontline's groundbreaking series on brain injuries in the NFL, "League of Denial," as well as the outstanding book of the same name by ESPN writers Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, dealing with brain injuries is a complex and not-so-exact science.

The one thing we know is this: Repeated trauma to the head is going to lead to brain damage, now or down the road, in almost every case.

Taylor is no longer the athlete he once was, and he has no prayer of beating any legitimate top-level fighters. No matter which weight class he wants to fight, whether it's middleweight, super middleweight or light heavyweight, there are far too many gifted boxers in those divisions for Taylor to win a major bout and earn the big money that would come with it.

Do you think he could beat Gennady Golovkin or Sergio Martinez? Zero chance. Andre Ward at super middleweight? Adonis Stevenson or Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight? No, no an no.

Taylor, unfortunately, is finished as a high-level fighter. He insists, though, upon fighting. Since returning in 2011 after that two-year absence, he's gone 3-0 against low-level opposition.

Every boxer who walks through the ropes accepts a certain amount of risk. But when you're 35, your reflexes are slowed, you've taken a series of major blows and you have had a bleed on the brain, you are at an incredibly increased risk. That is a risk that makes no sense to take, no matter how desperate one is for money.

Fighters like Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Lennox Lewis got it right. Their skills began to decline and they walked away, at or near the top, for good. They took what they could get out of boxing and left before it could take from them.

Be certain, that boxing takes from everyone sooner or later. Stay in too long, be unable to avoid those blows to the head, and boxing will take from you. It's what happened to Ali, and it's what happened to Freddie Roach, and it's what will happen to every single fighter who refuses to know when to say when.

It's time for Jermain Taylor to say when, no matter how many tests he's passed. Boxing is about to get him. This is a fight that he can not win.

For his sake, here's hoping he realizes it before it it's too late.

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