Tuesday afternoon at Tavern on the Green in New York City, DiBella Entertainment announced their upcoming middleweight championship fight between Jermain Taylor, 27-0-1 (17), and Kelly Pavlik, 31-0 (28), from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ on September 29, 2007.
Taylor’s co-trainer Emmanuel Steward took over the press conference with his thoughts on the middleweight division, “There’s only two middleweights in the world that people think about today, ask anybody who they think of, Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor; there are no other middleweights out there.
“The division that was once a glamor division is really dead now. The last great middleweight fight was Bernard Hopkins and Trinidad, who wasn’t even considered a middleweight at the time. Those were really marquee names to get excited about.
”This fight is a fight that people are looking forward to, not legendary names but just the match up of styles.”
Steward laughingly commented on the public perception of Taylor after his last few performances, citing a conversation that a fan in California had with him. “He said 'you're doing very good, I like what you’re doing with Klitschko, I like the way that Cintron looks, he looks like a Puerto Rican Tommy Hearns, but you gotta do something about Jermain Taylor. I don’t know about Jermain, he’s fighting this boy Kelly Pavlik, I don’t know.'
“That’s the general assumption of everyone,” confirmed Steward. “I told Jermain later, everyone is worried about you, Jermain.
“The last year to year and a half he [Taylor] has been in some of the worse fights anybody can be in,” continued Steward. “Winky Wright is one of the best defensive fighters in history with his hands held over his head.
“Then you go through two fights prior to that with Bernard Hopkins, who’s the best at moving around, throwing a right hand, butting and pushing all at the same time.”
“Then he goes in with a guy who’s smaller than him, but just so focused and so determined, I knew it would be a tough fight with Ouma who was a left handed fighter.
“Then he goes in with Cory Spinks, before he even touches you or punches you, he is gone already.”
During Taylor’s last fight with Spinks, which was considered by many the worst fight of the year, Steward implored him, yelling at him to throw punches. Steward spoke about his perspective of the fight. “I get criticized a lot about the cameras on me between the rounds, but if the cameras had been on Lou DiBella, it would have been worse.”
“I’m looking behind me and I see Don King and Lou sitting on one side and one of the judges, Al Haymon. At the end of every round, Lou is coming up to me saying, 'come on you gotta do something'. And Don King staying just as cool, [imitating King’s voice] 'that’s it baby, you're taking the title back to St. Louis, you're doing a beautiful job', and the judge who is looking back at both of them and I am thinking we just lost that judge.
“That’s why I was screaming and raising so much hell, I never degraded him. In all these fights, he has won his last rounds. Jermain fights all the way through the fight, winning or losing.”
After fighting three left hand fighters Steward is looking forward to Taylor fighting an orthodox fighter again. “In fighting Kelly, he is fighting a right hander; a basic fighter that he defeated in the amateurs. Jermain has faster hands, much better coordination but he won’t be able to lay on the ropes and take his little breaks. Those other guys didn’t want to get involved too muchâ€¦ in this fight with Kelly, he’s going to fight him all the way. If he takes any break, Kelly will be right there pressing him, so it will be the best fight you will see Jermain fight.”
In closing, Steward offered a bold statement with his prediction of the fight, “I think you are going to see skills that you never saw and I predict a knockout. I don’t think it will go six rounds.”
Bob Arum then introduced Kelly Pavlik to the podium, where he responded to Steward’s prediction, “Mr. Steward, I can’t get mad at you for your prediction, you are supposed to say that.
“I’d like to thank Jermain Taylor for giving me this opportunity. I can guarantee you on September 29, I am going to make the best of it, take no chances, there will be no playing around. I can guarantee one thing; I will always put my best into it and I can’t wait until the 29th. It’s a dream come true I am still pinching my skin at this opportunity.”
Lou DiBella took the podium to introduce Taylor and offer his praise to Pavlik for being a class act and being a number one contender that actually earned it.
Taylor followed in Steward’s footsteps, as he is also well aware of the criticism to his recent performances. “To my team, let me apologize because they have been taking a lot of criticism because of my fights. My coach can’t even go into the grocery store without someone throwing eggs at him.”
“Listen, it’s over. I got a man that’s not a left hander and says all he wants to do is fight. I am going to fight until the end of the fight, no matter what it takes. He is a great fighter, I give him much respect. He is the number one contender, he did his thing. It’s going to be a great fight.”
This will be a critical fight for Taylor, who needs a convincing win with a strong performance to change the mind of the public. When Taylor was a rising star, he was a dominating fighter with a left jab that couldn’t be stopped. Hopefully for Taylor, he will be able to find that same fighter within himself, not only for the public, but for himself as well.