Will Jermain Taylor Sign His Own Death Warrant After Defeating Sam Soliman?

Tonight, Little Rock native Jermain Taylor took home the middleweight IBF title with a unanimous decision take-down of 40-year-old Sam Soliman. On the surface, that’s great news for one of Arkansas’ most beloved athletes. In reality, it could present an opportunity for the former Olympic gold medalist with tragic consequences.

Because this Soliman win returns some prestige to Taylor’s once-matinee brand, many boxing pundits believe it’s likely HBO will attempt to schedule a fight between the 37-year-old Taylor and undefeated Ganndady Golovkin, who at age 32 has the highest KO ratio (27 of 30 fights) in middleweight championship history. Golovkin, aka “GGG,” has never been knocked down or knocked out in over 375 fights. If the promise of large purse trump the publicly stated intentions of Taylor’s promoter Lou Dibella, it could pose serious health threats to Taylor, who was severely beaten the last time he fought boxers remotely near Golovkin’s caliber. As Jake Emen of ProBoxing-Fans.com writes:

Make no mistake about it, Golovkin vs. Taylor would be an absolute disaster. Jermain Taylor is a fighter who has suffered bleeding on the brain. Caleb Truax knocked him down. Kelly Pavlik, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham all brutally kayoed him. Prior to this fight, he didn’t sniff the top 10 of the Middleweight division. He has no business in the ring against somebody like Gennady Golovkin at this stage of his career, and more importantly, at this stage of his life. If anyone around him had any sense, they’d let this return to championship glory signal the end of Taylor’s career, a heroic curtain call enabling him to rest easy for the remainder of his years — not to mention allow him to sort out his pending legal issues. But no, that won’t happen, will it?

Before this match is actually scheduled, Golovkin must win his Oct. 18 match against Marco Rubio and it’s possible Taylor will fight once more too. Still, the stars seem to be aligning for what could be a catastrophe for Taylor – and the sport of boxing – given the brain damage Taylor suffered in 2009.

In 2011, the Nevada State Athletic Commission approved Taylor’s reapplication to fight after he’d gone through a battery of tests and received clearance from doctors.

Dr. Margaret Goodman, a long-time ringside physician for the NSAC, condemned the decision. “I think it is unconscionable that Jermain [Taylor] was relicensed,” she told Ring Magazine. “It is not about whether his brain has healed or how he looked in the gym. Jermain has shown a predisposition to cerebral hemorrhage, and irrespective of whether or not he bled, he has shown he cannot adequately handle a punch.”

Goodman ultimately said the commission was playing “Russian roulette” with Taylor’s life.

I love miracles and feel-good stories of redemption and all that, but not enough to see what could transpire if this fight happens. I hope Taylor still has enough of his wits about him to say “no” to HBO if and when the time comes.

Marco Rubio, Ashley Judd & Anders Holm as Final Four Announcers

It appears the “savior of the Republican Party” may be a baller. He’d be an even better halftime shot caller.

The broadcasts of this year’s Final Four games feature a new twist. As usual, national television viewers can tune in to a main broadcast a semifinal game on TBS with familiar, established announcers. But on Saturday we will will also see the debut of two other broadcasts that will simultaneously air on separate channels.

These broadcasts will showcase team-centric announcers catering to the fans of Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky. There will be four “teamcasts” overall to be  shown on TNT and truTv – games which you can find odds for by going to MyTopSportsbooks.com.

This is for the most part a good idea. But CBS/Turner Sports missed out by not including celebrity fans who could appeal to the tens of millions of viewers who are only casual college basketball fans and appreciate insight that veers off into other entertainment worlds like the movie business. As of now,  the teamcasts will feature regional sports channel announcers and former players like UConn’s Swin Cash and Kentucky’s Rex Chapman.

That’s fine for diehard UConn or Kentucky fans, but why not complement those announcers with non-basketball celebrity fans who know the game? Put the following famous fans on the pre or post game shows, or half time, and let them do what they do best: entertain the masses with interesting life stories.

It’s not too late. If CBS/Turner Sports were to at the last second announce teamcast cameos, here’s who should be chosen. Each Final Four program gets a favorite and at least one “darkhorse” candidate.



Favorite: Ashley Judd – who else?

She, along with Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee, are as iconic as celebrity fans get.

Judd’s ties to her team run very deep. She believes Big Blue Nation has so many fans is that it binds a geographically diverse state “that has had its hard times. She adds “basketball has given us something to distract us from hardships, from coal mines and strikes and poverty, and given us something positive about which to dream.” Judd herself had a traumatic and fluid childhood, attending 13 schools in her first 18 years. Through all this turmoil one thing she could count on was the joy Kentucky basketball brought her. I’d guess she feels gratitude toward the program.

Judd’s super-close connections to UK basketball would spark enough stories for 20 pre-game shows. For example:

“The 2002-03 squad came to our house (fan nirvana, anyone?) after they beat IUPI … in Nashville and my friend Cathy, Aunt Dot, and I cooked for them. We were all mutually awestruck, so they ended up eating a whole heck of a lot less than the boosters who came over the next night and were far less numerous! Coach loved our countryside setting, and he kept trying to get the town boys to believe he wanted them to take a walk in the woods with a kerosene lantern. One guy was nearly hysterical at the thought.”

Darkhorse #1: Of the rest of Kentucky’s seemingly never-ending list of famous fans, Drake would probably provide the most interesting commentary. Two questions for him: 1)  Does he feel anything is wrong with the fact he got his own UK championship ring before Judd? 2) Can he produce a basketball-centric rendition of his hit singe “Started from the Bottom”? I want it relay the emotional narrative of this year’s Wildcats, who started as the nation’s #1 ranked team before losing 10 games.

Suggested title: “Started at Top, Then Fell to Middle,  Now Close to Top Again.”

Darkhorse #2: The actress/superfan who would provide the most interesting visual:




Favorite: Anders Holm

This comedic actor, best known for his role as Anders “Ders” Torpin Holmvik on the Comedy Central show Workaholics,  has the Badger background and improvisational chops to be the no-brainer choice here. Holm’s was a swimmer for Wisconsin in the early 2000s and has been outspoken in his support for the basketball team:

Holm is known to freestyle, which opens the door to the tantalizing possibility of a battle rap showdown between he and Drake..

I pray you, CBS/Turner Sports, do not slam this door shut on me.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERLrP5FFkM8]


Darkhorse: Aaron Rodgers.


When you can make a head coach look like this just by showing up, your star power is no joke. Rodgers could simply dish out stories as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for 90% of the time and still hold the audience in thrall:

H/T to Phil Mitten of Buckys5thQuarter.com for insight

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