Rumble Young Man Rumble; An open letter to Jermain Taylor
By Martin Wade (March 30, 2005) 
Photo ©
Well well well, after the usual pre-fight wrangling and Bernard Hopkins unique brand of ‘hardball’ you (Jermain) finally get your date with destiny. I am sure that you and your handlers would not have approached the King of the middleweights if you didn’t think you had a chance to upset the Philadelphian. So, with that being said, I just wanted to remind you of the lost ‘right of passage’ that you are in the position to restore. You see, Jermain, long before you were born boxing had a ritual by which the young lion usually supplants the old lion – by force. Somewhere in the last couple of years with the advent of high tech training and more impressively conditioned athletes that principle has been obscured by the intimidation factor. You see, Jermain, somewhere in the last couple of years we’ve lost the truth that some of boxing’s greatest fighters where once in the very same position you are in now. So despite what anyone in the media may say about this July 16th fight, you’re not alone.

On a day off from training, go to your local Barnes and Noble and pick up any book detailing the history of the ring and you’ll see your story repeated with varying themes. When you start reading you’ll realize that no one thought Jess Willard would fall to a scrawny ‘hobo’. You’ll also read about the ambulances parked outside of Miami Beach Convention center in 1964 idled and ready to transport a loudmouth pretty boy from Louisville. I could go on and on with stories of youth and talent overpowering experienced champions where anyone reading this letter can just ‘insert name’. The one thread of synergy that fuse each battle is that the upstart was fueled with an audacity that threw all convention and expert analysis out of the window. Your only chance of winning this fight is to propel your level of desire to a place that far exceeds the bounds of the champ’s ‘Executioner’ psychology. In the pre-fight buildup it will be Bernard’s time to get you to think, as a great athlete’s talent dwindles he becomes a master at this. Don’t allow him to drag you into the matrix of thought Jermain, for to tear something down is instinctive and quite natural – especially to the young lion.

When you look at the Eastman fight, it is obvious that Hopkins when conceded pace will pick you apart. When you looked closer I’m sure you saw that Hopkins was not comfortable with Eastman’s strength but was sure Howard didn’t know how to use it. At this point Hopkins cerebral ring gifts become heightened and a moderate pace can slowly turn things painful and ugly. You, Jermain, have the gift of not only youth and physical strength but you’ve mastered a jab that can offset speed and, yes, even experience. Your ability to come forward behind a heavy jab and put pressure on Hopkins (cutting into his amazing boxing IQ) early and often will reveal more about Bernard’s ‘age’ than we’ve seen in years. In all Young Lion/Old Lion scenarios the young imposed his style at a pace that the old lion could not keep. In other words whether it was the ballet-like footwork and straight rights of Clay or the relentless mauling of a Marciano the trick here is to do what you do. Remember growing up and playing pick up basketball with the older cats in the neighborhood? You know the ones, the ‘OG’s’ who kept beating you with minimal effort. When you got into your teens (and audacity) you realized that if you ran ‘em they’d crack. You realized that they were so experienced that they conned you into playing a half court game. The same philosophy is at work here, just at a higher and more brutal level.

In closing just remember that nature is at play when you fight, when you think you lend yourself to the laws of Bernard. Don’t allow his record to dissuade you from your destiny, allow him his right to lecture endlessly on his legacy but claim July 16 2005 as your own. Don’t expect him to beat himself or get old overnight because those are simply myths. Remember, Jermain, old fighters don’t willingly step over the ledge; some young fighter comes along and pushes them. So, in the words of a mere ‘man child’ who shocked the world many years ago, “Rumble Young Man Rumble!”

The Boxing Junkie
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2005