By: William Holmes
ESPN 2 broadcast another special edition of their Friday Night Fights show on a Wednesday night. In the main event, former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor took on Australian Sam Soliman–who had a win over Felix Sturm nullfied due to PED use in 2013 and was given a nine-month suspension–for Soliman’s IBF Middleweight title.
Biloxi, Mississippi was the host city for tonight’s title fight, giving Taylor home field advantage.
The first bout of the night was between Nick Brinson (16-2-2) and Andre Dirrell (22-1) in the super middleweight division. Dirrell is a former Olympic bronze medalist and was a big favorite coming into this bout.
Dirrell had a noticeable height advantage on Nick Brinson and kept a good distance in the first round. Dirrell was landing straight left hands from the southpaw stance. He was landing the combinations he threw and showed he could handle Brinson’s power, remaining unfazed from a clean right hook.
Brinson’s punches were bouncing off the shoulders of Dirrell in the second round, and Dirrell was accurate, but neither fighter took any risks.
Dirrell switched back to an orthodox stance in the third round and was walking Brinson down. Both fighters opened up offensively in the second of half of the third round, but it was Brinson who landed the most memorable punch of the round with hard straight right hand.
It would be the last meaningful punch of the night from Brinson.
Dirrell ended the fight in the fourth round when Brinson rushed right into an open trap by Dirrell and was obliterated with a left hook to the chin. Brinson appeared out on his feet and was pummeled by a barrage of punches by the corner before the referee stopped the fight.
Andre Dirrell won by TKO at 2:12 of the fourth round.
The next bout of the night was between Ahmed Elbiali (7-1) and Dakota Dawson (3-0) in the light heavyweight division. It was revealed during the telecast that Dawson also works as a cook at an Ihop. Elbial, in contrast, has an impressive amateur background and won his last fight by knockout.
Elbiali sent the badly overmatched Dawson crashing to the mat within the first minute of the third round with a right cross to the chin. He sent him back down almost immediately with a left hook to the body. Dawson did not answer the count of ten.
Ahmed won by TKO at 1:10 of the first round.
The next bout of the night was a swing fight between Carlos Velasquez (17-1) and Jean Sotelo (24-12-13) in the junior lightweight division.
Sotelo looked like he did not belong in the ring with Velasquez and was badly outgunned. He took several combinations from Velasquez and resorted to holding on in the last half of the initial round.
Sotelo must have realized himself that he did not belong in the ring with Velasquez and went down to the mat writing in pain from a questionable low blow in round two.
In a bizarre scene, Sotelo then spent five long minutes laying on the mat, rolling around in agony, real or imagined, and refused to get back up.
After five minutes the fight was ruled a TKO at 1:32 of the second round. Since the low blow was ruled unintentional, and Sotelo was given five minutes to recover and did not want to continue fighting when the five minutes expired, the bout was ruled a TKO instead of a no contest.
The main event of the night was between Jermain Taylor (32-4-1) and Sam Soliman (44-11) for the IBF Middleweight Title.
Soliman showed good upper body movement in the first round, but was not active offensively. Taylor was active in the first, but was short with his punches. It was a feeling-out round, but the action began to pick up a little bit in the second stanza.
Soliman’s awkwardness was giving Taylor trouble in the second round, as Soliman would land a jab or two and hold on. Taylor was looking to land his overhand right and was rushing forward with his combinations, but he was rushing too far in and often wound up in a clinch.
The third round clearly belonged to Soliman, as he was able to land his jabs and right hooks upstairs while Taylor appeared to be slowing down.
Taylor came out aggressive in the fourth round, but he still had trouble finding his range with his punches.
Taylor’s trunks were visibly sagging below his body guard at the start of the fifth round, and remained that way for the rest of the fight. Taylor was beginning to find his range in the fifth, as his jabs and right crosses were landing more regularly. The sixth round clearly belonged to
Taylor, who had Soliman stumbling off balance from his right hands.
Soliman tasted the mat in the seventh round from a stiff jab by Jermain Taylor with his knee visibly bothering him. If Soliman’s knee wasn’t injured, he probably wouldn’t have gone down, but it was still correctly ruled a knockdown.
Soliman’s smile was erased from his face in the eighth round, but he was visibly hobbled and suffered another knockdown from a short right hand. He would taste the mat once again in the eighth, but it was ruled a slip, though arguably could have been another knockdown.
Soliman’s knee would only further hinder him in the ninth round, when he fell to the mat awkwardly after Taylor hit him with a right cross. The ringside doctor checked Soliman in the middle of the round and allowed him to continue, but the fight could have been stopped for good reason.
Soliman’s corner kept on sending Soliman out for one more round, allowing him to continue fighting. The fight was ugly in the championship rounds as an injured Soliman fought valiantly, but struggled mightily to stay on his feet.
Taylor scored another knockdown in the eleventh round and coasted through the final round.
The final scores were 116-111, 115-109, and 116-109 for the new IBF Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor.