Jermain Taylor, who hasn’t held a world title in five years, knocked defending champion Sam Soliman down four times Wednesday night to win the IBF middleweight title by unanimous decision at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The scores were 116-111, 115-109, and 116-109.
The fight started slowly in the opening rounds. The 40-year-old Soliman (44-12, 18 KOs) tried to find his range--while Taylor (33-4-1. 20 KOs) fired right hands.
Not much from either boxer landed.
The busier Soliman appeared to have a slight edge. His awkwardness made it impossible for Taylor to find any kind of rhythm.
Taylor, 36, who was allowed to resume his career in 2011 after passing a battery of tests, began to jab a little more in round five. He caught Soliman with a good right hand, but ate a solid uppercut a few seconds later.
Soliman’s punches weren’t fancy, but they were effective. Taylor landed another good right at the bell.
Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KOs) did even better in round six. He stunned Soliman with a big right hand. He also landed a few chopping shots to the head.
Soliman, who won the IBF title by defeating Felix Strum in Germany earlier this year, got busier in round seven. The stanza was his until Taylor floored him with a stinging left. Taylor connected with another combination at the bell.
In round eight, Taylor landed a right hand that floored Soliman for the second time. The defending champion pulled himself up, but was favoring his left leg. The courageous Soliman fought back, but the injury was limiting his movement.
Taylor landed a crunching left hook in round nine. Soliman ran into a right hand and went down again. His discomfort was obvious. The doctor was summoned to check on Soliman’s knee. He allowed the fight to continue.
In round 10, Taylor, completely in control, rocked the champion with inside hooks.
Soliman wasn’t about to quit. He emptied his arsenal, but nothing he landed bothered Taylor.
Soliman showed his championship heart in round 11. He fought as hard as he could, touching Taylor with short punches, but the former undisputed middleweight champion still knocked him down later in the stanza.
Taylor cruised in the last round. Soliman kept trying to land a miracle shot, but Taylor stayed out of range.
"I'm coming home with the belt," said an emotional Taylor in the ring. "I'll fight whoever they put in front in me. I've never dodged anybody."
Taylor is expected to face mandatory challenger Hassan N’Dam sometime next year.