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The defending champ is in no shape to take on the most fearsome fighting machine in middleweight history, many pundits believe.

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.

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