TAYLOR RISES FROM CANVAS TO OUTPOINT TRUAX
By Tracy Morin, MemphisBoxing.com, Photos by: Wesley Ortiz
In the main event, the middleweight Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) began the fight cautiously, as did opponent Caleb Truax (18-0-1, 10 KOs), who seemed to take several rounds to warm up. The gun-shy Taylor landed mostly jabs, with a couple of glancing overhand rights thrown in, for the first couple of rounds, but by round three began to advance behind the jab and ripped off a three-punch combo; meanwhile, Truax tried, with minimal success, to counter.The action started to heat up slightly in Round 4, and by Round 5 Taylor was beginning to put his punches together as opposed to relying solely on the jab.
Round 6 might have been won by Truax, who found success with right hooks and an overhand right, though Taylor’s defense–and offense–began to step up to the challenge in Round 7, as he threw a trio of left hooks and closed the round with a three-punch combo.
Though Truax continued to land one punch at a time, he found his mark more successfully in Round 8, leading Taylor to show a flash of his former self, firing back with combos and throwing with more of the bad intentions that earned him his nickname–and causing the Taylor-supporting crowd at the Beau Rivage to lead robust chants of “J.T.” However, the former champ’s slowly building momentum came to a screeching halt in Round 9, when Truax caught him with a short right that landed Taylor on the canvas, creating immediate drama given Taylor’s recent history of being on the wrong end of vicious knockouts. However, he beat the count and, still on unsteady legs, held on to Truax, stifling most of the latter’s offensive efforts.
With the crowd on its feet, Round 10 saw a bouncing Taylor trying to regain stability, slip punches and clinch when necessary, causing Truax to wind down the fight with few effective blows landed in the final frame. The judges’ scorecards reflected Taylor’s control of the majority of the fight, with scores of 98-91 (Keith Hughes), 97-92 (Larry Ingle) and 97-94 (David Taranto).
In the co-feature, Cuban amateur star–and victim of a controversial decision versus Paul Williams in his last outing–Erislandy Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs) had no intention of leaving his fate in the hands of judges this time out, and needed only about a half of a round to dispose of Ronald Hearns (26-2, 20 KOs), the lightly tested son of legend Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns. Though the southpaw Lara opened with a few jabs to the long body of Hearns, he soon worked in a straight left that put Hearns down and in trouble. Though Hearns rose from the canvas, Lara was officially in attack mode, launching an onslaught that caused referee Keith Hughes to step in and give the beleaguered Hearns a standing eight count. However, when Lara then stepped in with a left-right-left combo, Hearns was decisively put down and out, giving Lara a TKO at 1:34 of Round 1.
In the first of three nontelevised undercard fights, Steve Martinez (11-1, 9 KOs) and Marcus Thompson (5-6-1, 2 KOs) met up in a junior middleweight contest that effectively displayed Martinez’s punching power. Thompson spent much of the fight with his back to the ropes, while Martinez teed off with an impressive body attack that quickly wore down his overwhelmed opponent. Martinez, through a balanced mix of patience and pressure, dropped Thompson with a right in the second round, after which he came forward aggressively and once again trapped Thompson against the ropes, leading ref Keith Hughes to call an end to the bout at 1:52 of Round 2.
Detroit-based middleweight J’Leon Love (10-0, 6 KOs) similarly needed less than the scheduled eight rounds to dispose of southpaw Ibahiem King (10-6, 4 KOs), who emerged for Round 1 with stiffer jabs and initially seemed to have more pop behind his punches. However, the counterpunching Love took control after a feeling-out first round with body-head combos, though he seemed to fight in spots. By Round 3, having found his confidence and rhythm, Love connected with a spot-on short right while fighting inside, leading to a KO victory at 0:38. After the fight, Love (now in camp Floyd Mayweather to prep him for the upcoming Miguel Cotto fight) told the crowd his plan was to take control and dictate the fight, and seized the moment when he saw his clean shots were landing with increasing frequency.
Kelvin Price (12-0, 6 KOs) went the distance in his effort against fellow heavyweight Arron Lyons (12-11-1, 9 KOs). Though outjabbed throughout thanks to a significant height and reach disadvantage, Lyons made the 10-rounder interesting–albeit with help from the 6’7″ Price, who kept his left hand low throughout and ate an array of solid right hooks. Price used his legs, athleticism and jab to control the fight, but once the oft-lunging Lyons found a home for his head-snapping hooks, he was able to catch Price with a reliable degree of consistency. Judges awarded the fight to Price, with scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 98-92, but Lyons received an appreciative round of applause from the crowd for his efforts as he exited the ring.