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Meldrick Taylor: Problem with Our Society or Problem with Our Sport?

Feb 9, 2004  By Vito Trabucco
I know it’s hard to bring up a conversation about Meldrick Taylor without mentioning the Julio Cesar Chavez fight. And this is no exception. It’s been a long 14 years since that unforgettable night, and we still find ourselves bringing it up when we talk about controversy in the sport. We can go on all night about Richard Steele and his unbelievable stoppage with 2 seconds on the clock. We can talk about why Meldrick didn’t answer when he was asked, “Are you all right?” And why was he looking at his corner instead of answering Steele? The argument will never cease. It will go down as one of boxing’s most memorable along with controversial moments.

HBO’s new series “Legendary Nights”, where we go back and look at some of these great fights with analysis and inside scoop from the fighters and the people who lived it, has been running none stop on its cable station. They covered fights like Hagler/Hearns to Arguello/Pryor. And if you’re like me, you didn’t miss any of them.

I missed the premiere of “The Tale of Taylor Vs. Chavez.” A friend of mine told me I had to see it. He knew how much of a Meldrick Taylor fan I was when I was younger. I haven’t heard much about him in the past few years and had to see what he was up to along with what he had to say about that night.

I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t say anything at all. In fact, he could barely even speak. It was shocking to me. This was the reward for his accomplishments in the ring? What shocked me even more is that he is still fighting! At first I was angry that any boxing commission would allow this. Then it dawned on me. What else is he supposed to do? He is a pugilist. A prizefighter. He doesn’t know anything else. This is his livelihood. Is it up to us to take that away from him?

We can pose two questions from this. One; does this show the effects of a brutal sport and we need to do more to insure the fighters’ health? Or two; do we need to finally start putting together organizations to help fighters like Meldrick Taylor out when they can’t do anymore in the ring?

I’m going to have to choose the latter on this one. Although boxing is a violent sport where injuries are inevitable, we need find a way to take care of our fallen warriors. There are a few organizations now, but not nearly enough.

I know what you’re saying, “These guys make millions. They can’t save money for retirement?” Good point, but that’s not always the case. Some of these guys don’t make more than $20,000 a fight. Meldrick Taylor only had one major “Superfight” in his career. He’s not exactly riding off on his yacht every weekend. How many boxers do you think are making the big bucks? A lot of these guys are holding down full-time jobs on the side just so they can fight.

Contrary to popular belief, boxing is not the highest paid profession in the world. Its tough to get by. It gets even tougher when you retire. Fighters like Meldrick Taylor need our support. We loved him 14 years ago, does that mean we are supposed to forget about him now?

These men are soldiers that fight on a squared battlefield. They put their lives on the line for our entertainment. We should need to start showing a little appreciation in return. Taylor deserves it. Did you see that fight with Julio Cesar Chavez? If you did, then I think you would agree with me.

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