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Can Taylor spoil Abraham's debut at super middleweight?

Over two years ago, Jermain Taylor was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world enjoying his lofty status in the top ten of most pound for pound ratings.  All of accolades would come to a crashing halt in the 7th round of his title defense against Kelly Pavlik at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, when he was beaten the canvas by Pavlik and mercifully saved by the referee. 

Since the knockout loss to Pavlik, Taylor has gone 0-2 in his last couple of fights, including a dramatic knockout loss to WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch in the final seconds of his last fight in April. Tayler, ahead on the judges scorecards, was merely seconds away from victory before it was painfully snatched away from him. Funny how such a scenario could literally be taken as déjà vu, as yours truly recalls another memorable fight with a shockingly similar conclusion, involving another fellow named [Meldrick] Taylor. Leading on two of the official ringside judge's scorecards, Meldrick was also knocked out by the great Mexican champion Julio Cesar Chavez in the closing seconds of their classic title fight in March of 1990! 

This Saturday night at the O2 World Arena, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany, Taylor will attempt to revive his career when he takes on undefeated former IBF middleweight champion King Arthur Abraham who is making his debut in the super middleweight division. Abraham vs. Taylor is one of the opening bouts, in a series of intriguing matchups that will be taking place in Showtime's Super Six Classic tournament. The tournament is intended to match the best super middleweight titlists and contenders against one another, in what will hopefully produce the universally recognized super middleweight champion of the world - the first since Joe Calzaghe defeated Mikkell Kessler for the distinction back in November of 2007.

Abraham had been a middleweight titlist for nearly four years, winning the vacant IBF title belt with a fifth round knockout of Kingsley Ikeke in December of 2005.  Since winning the title, Abraham has scored a series of title defenses against the likes of Kofi Jantuah, Edison Miranda, and Lujuan Simon.  In the last two years, three of Abraham's victories have been stoppages that occurred in the final three rounds [KO 11 Khoren Gevor; KO12 Elvin Ayala (brutal); TKO 10 Mahir Oral in his last fight].

 
Following the announcement of the Super Six Classic, as well as the contenders who were to be involved, this reporter did not view Taylor as worthy candidate.  Cynics had endlessly criticized Taylor for his performances throughout his title reign, in his title winning effort over Bernard Hopkins as well as his less than stellar title defenses, claiming that he failed to live up to the tradition of great middleweight champions before him.

What many had dismissed was the notion that he faced his two biggest threats immediately upon winning the title, which happened to be Hopkins in a rematch and Wright immediately following.  What remains in question is how successfully the battle-tested Taylor will be able to perform, following two devastating knockout defeats, when entering the much anticipated and highly competitive super middleweight tournament.

Such statistics are sure to pose a concern to Team Taylor, realizing that their charge has shown a tendency to tire in the late rounds. While Abraham is favored to defeat Taylor on Saturday night, one can not deny that Taylor has faced far more credible opposition in Pavlik, Hopkins, Wright, and Cory Spinks.  
One can not count Taylor out, not in this fight or the tournament in general, as he may very well be the Super Six Classic's dark horse.  Taylor has faced the best opposition of all the candidates, but he has also taken the most punishment and suffered the most humiliating experiences of all of them as well. 

There are many questions to be asked:  Can Abraham carry his punching power up with him eight pounds north of his previous weight class? How much does Taylor have left following the knockout loss to Froch?  Have the knock out losses to both Pavlik and Froch taken a toll on Taylor psychologically as well as physically?  Such questions will be answered on Saturday night when these two fighters meet in Germany on Showtime Championship Boxing. 

Logic tells this reporter that Abraham should be able to break Taylor down in the later rounds, as he has done against previous opponents, after experiencing some nervous moments of his own in the early rounds.  A precise prediction is soon to follow.

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