Taylor gets title after disputed draw

Jermain Taylor headed home with his middleweight title belts after narrowly escaping with a draw against Winky Wright.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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Jermain Taylor headed home with his middleweight title belts after narrowly escaping with a draw against Winky Wright. He didn't have far to go, about 137 miles (220 kilometres) down Interstate 40 to Little Rock, Arkansas. And that, according to Wright, was the reason Taylor still was the middleweight champion. Wright was so livid after the decision was announced that he bolted from the ring, not to be seen again. Taylor, meanwhile, laughed and joked and seemed quite relieved to keep his 160-pound ( 72-kilogram) title after a tough fight. It was the third straight time Taylor had left the ring happy with a close fight. He won two close decisions over Bernard Hopkins, and the draw against Wright was just as good because it allowed him to remain undefeated and keep his titles. If Wright had not decided to take off most of the 12th round, though, the result could have been different. Wright started celebrating a round too early, raising his hands at the end of the 11th round. When he went back to his corner, he was told the fight was in the bag. He was so certain of victory he fought only sparingly in the last round, and he paid the price. Taylor won the round on two of the three ringside scorecards to salvage a draw and keep the undisputed middleweight title. Crowd favourite Taylor was the clear favourite of the crowd, which barely half filled the FedEx Arena despite the promise of a competitive fight between two fighters in their prime. Ticket prices that reached $1,250 at ringside caught most of the blame for the lack of fans, but those who were there cheered Taylor on. He needed every bit of the support, fading after a fast start and unable to see out of his left eye in the final round. Both fighters traded at will in a crowd-pleasing fight, but Wright seemed to land more punches and get the better of most exchanges. When the fight ended, Wright leaped up on the ropes in victory while Taylor went back to his corner. The judges thought he did enough to salvage the draw, though, with each fighter favored by one judge 115-113, and the third having it a 114-114 draw. The Associated Press had Wright winning 116-112. The decision in most cases would spark a call for a rematch, and it is a possibility. But Wright angrily said he would not fight Taylor again, and Taylor's promoter just as angrily said Taylor would never fight Wright again because he did not respect him. Those kind of things are usually put aside when money comes into the picture in boxing, and there is little doubt a second fight between the two fighters would be the most lucrative fight around for both of them. First, though, Taylor is expected to fight at home in Little Rock in October or November against a lesser opponent, something his handlers are eager to see because they believe he needs a breather after tough fights against Hopkins and Wright. Taylor remains undefeated in 26 fights and has the future of the middleweight division in his hands. He earned $3.75 million for the fight, and there is the promise of millions more. Taylor could not even bring himself to get upset over Wright's lack of respect for him after the fight. (AP)