|Tuesday, April 16
Taylor tries to put law troubles behind him
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A former professional boxing champion will try to revive his career in Birmingham next month after being kept out of the ring by health concerns and an attempted rape charge.
Former welterweight champion and Olympic gold medalist Meldrick Taylor, 35, is scheduled to fight Birmingham native Jerry Smith, 35, at Boutwell Auditorium on May 31. It would be Taylor's first official fight since the fall of 1999.
Taylor hasn't fought the last two years because he was under house arrest, said Steve Tanenbaum, his manager and agent. Also, several state boxing commissions have refused to sanction a Taylor fight because of concerns about whether he was physically fit to fight.
"Meldrick is physically fine," Tanenbaum said.
Boxing commissions in New Jersey and Hawaii disagreed.
Promoters canceled a fight featuring Taylor that would have taken place in Honolulu in October 2000. The Hawaii State Boxing Commission said it would require a neurological exam and CAT scan.
The New Jersey Athletic Control Board also canceled a Taylor fight in 1998 after Taylor failed to provide medical records.
Taylor's slurred speech is caused by a speech impediment, not a health problem, his handlers say.
In April 2000, Taylor was arrested and charged with attempted rape and indecent assault. Taylor pleaded guilty to indecent assault and unlawful restraint charges, and he was sentenced to serve at least 23 months under house arrest and three years' probation.
Taylor's fight next month would have to be sanctioned by boxing commissions in Mississippi or Tennessee because Alabama is one of seven states without a boxing regulatory body.
Promoter Jimmy Logan said boxing legend Muhammed Ali and former champion Ken Norton are scheduled to attend the weigh-in May 30. Ali's participation depends on his health.
Six or seven undercard fights also are planned, Logan said.
Tickets for the event range from $25 for general admission, $40 for VIP seats, and $300 to $500 for ringside tables.
Taylor won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics at age 17. He later went on to claim the IBF junior welterweight title in 1988 and the WBA welterweight title in 1991.
His career went downhill following two losses to Julio Ceasar Chavez in 1990 and 1994.