Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 | 2:48 p.m.
Jermain Taylor withdrew from the Super Six World Boxing Classic on Tuesday, although the former middleweight champion stopped short of announcing his retirement.
The decision had been widely expected after Taylor was knocked out in the 12th round by Arthur Abraham in October, his second straight late-round stoppage. Taylor (28-4 with one draw) was also knocked out in the final round by Carl Froch in April.
“I’m going to take some time off from the sport of boxing,” Taylor said in a statement. “It’s important that I give my body and mind some much-needed rest, because I have been boxing for nearly 20 years. I plan on keeping myself in shape and making a return to the sport sometime in the future.”
Taylor has lost four of his last five fights, including three by knockout, and was hospitalized after the loss to Abraham in Germany. He complained at the time of short-term memory loss, prompting his promoter Lou DiBella to part ways over concerns about his health.
“I know it must have been a difficult decision for Jermain, and I’m very happy for him and his family that he decided to give himself a much-needed break,” DiBella said in a statement Tuesday.
The 31-year-old Taylor was scheduled to face WBA champion Andre Ward on April 17 in the second leg of Showtime’s modified round-robin tournament, which is designed to crown one winner from six super middleweight contenders early next year.
The network has contingency plans in place if a fighter drops out, although it was unclear who will be first in line to replace Taylor. One of the possibilities would be the winner of a Showtime-televised fight between Allan Green and Sakio Bika, scheduled for Feb. 5 in Santa Ynez, California.
Officials from Showtime did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Taylor shot to stardom in 2005 when he dethroned longtime middleweight king Bernard Hopkins by split decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Taylor validated the victory five months later, winning their rematch by unanimous decision at the Mandalay Bay.
The 2000 Olympic bronze medalist fought to a draw against Winky Wright the following year, then defended his titles against Kassim Ouma and Cory Spinks. But he never appeared quite as sharp as he did against Hopkins, and was exposed by Kelly Pavlik in a September 2007 defense at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Taylor knocked Pavlik down early and was leading comfortably on all three scorecards when the fight turned, and Pavlik stopped him in the seventh round for his first professional loss.
It has proven to be a harbinger of late-round disappointments.
After losing the rematch to Pavlik and defeating Jeff Lacy, Taylor challenged Froch for his WBC super middleweight belt. Taylor was clearly leading on two of the three scorecards in the final round when the British champion caught him against the ropes and knocked him out.
Then came the loss to Abraham with six seconds left in the fight.
“This was not an easy decision for me, having (to) discuss it with my family, trainer, friends and my adviser Al Hayman,” Taylor said. “I wish the best for my five counterparts who will continue on in the Super Six tournament. Most of all, I want to thank the many fans for their continued support.”