By Jackie Kallen
Does it strike anyone else anti-climactic that a 40-year-old fighter from Australia with 11 losses is fighting a 36-year old former champion for the IBF middleweight title? It’s a viable fight and is obviously interesting enough for ESPN2 to carry it live from Buloxi. But to me, it’s not really a top-level championship fight.
To be fair to Soliman, he’s been in with guys like Winky Wright and Felix Sturm and only one of his losses was by KO. That was seven years ago against Anthony Mundine. But none of his wins have been against opponents like Jermain Taylor. Taylor has fought at another level altogether.
Nine years ago, Jermain Taylor was a star. He beat Bernard Hopkins by split decision to win the WBC, IBF and WBO belts. He fought Hopkins again five months later, and this time he won unanimously. He then fought to a draw with Winky Wright and beat Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks.
Along came hard-hitting Kelly Pavlik in 2007 and again in 2008 and beat Taylor twice. The first time he knocked him out in the 7th round and the next time he won by unanimous decision The Jermain Taylor train came to a halt.
He sprang back with a win against Jeff Lacy, but then dropped losses to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham. Taylor has had only four fights since 2009. There is talk that his best days are far behind him and he is a “shot” fighter.
Is this a case of two guys–both over the hill–scrambling for a late-career title win? The winner then has guys like 30-0 Gennady Golovkin and 31-0 Peter Quillin to contend with. Even hungry southpaws such as Matt Korobov (24-0) are right up there hoping to be the undisputed, unified Middleweight Champ. Can either Soliman or Taylor hang with these guys?
One important fact to consider is that Soliman is a pitter-patter kind of puncher. His KO rate is low and he is not a feared slugger. Taylor has a higher KO rate, but his punch is not as deadly as that of GGG (90%) or Quillin (71%). So it’s hard to predict what future glory lies ahead for the winner. But it might turn out to be a very entertaining bout.
On the undercard, 22-1 Light Heavyweight Andre Dirrell will face 16-2-2 Nick Brinson. This shouldn’t be too hard a fight for Dirrell, since Brinson is not as skilled and has not met the type of opposition that Dirrell has. Dirrell’s dance card shows names like Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. He is still on his path to a world title. In 2009, Dirrell lost a split decision to Froch for the WBC belt. He hasn’t given up his dream. A win here could be another step up the ladder.
30-1-1 cruiserweight BJ Flores is also on this card. At 36, he’s still plying his trade and hoping to get somewhere. But with a lack-luster roster of opponents, it’s beginning to look like a long-shot. He turned pro late (25 years old) and strung together an impressive 25-0 record before losing to Danny Green. He has won six times since then, but is only fighting an 8-rounder here against 20-10 Kevin Engel.
A win against a man who has been knocked out eight times and is halfway through his thirties is not exactly going to put Flores in line for a title shot. But he’s a good guy and I hope he gets his win on Wednesday night.