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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, October 26, 2000


Agent: Taylor’s
in shape to
fight anyone

The former WBA and IBF
champion is scheduled to fight
Heath on Halloween night

By Pat Bigold

Two-time world champion Meldrick Taylor's agent shot back yesterday with claims that his boxer is still a sound fighter and should be allowed to fight in Waikiki on Halloween.

After reading and hearing reports that Taylor is only a shell of his former greatness, Hawaii State Boxing Commission chairman Ted Candia said Tuesday night he's inclined to recommend he not be allowed to fight here.

Taylor, who once owned both the WBA welterweight and IBF junior welterweight titles, has not fought since September 1999.

On Tuesday, the same day a boxer died in Boston of ring injuries, Georgia state commissioner Tom Mishou said he's unwilling to take another chance on Taylor.

But Taylor's New York-based agent, Steve Tanenbaum, said Taylor is fit to fight.

He said Taylor easily passed a battery of pre-fight tests in Denmark in August, 1998. He claimed the exams, which included neurological testing, were imposed upon his fighter because of faulty media reports about his condition.

The Halloween bout is to be a 10-rounder against 30-year-old Bobby Heath (22-8-4, 11 KOs) of Reading, Pa., with the 34-year-old Taylor (37-7-1) getting $6,500 and Heath getting $3,000.

That's a far cry from the seven-figure purses the ex-champion commanded in his prime. He earned between $10 million and $20 million in his career, according to some estimates.

Taylor is best remembered as the boxer with the lightning-quick mitts who dominated Julio Cesar Chavez for 11 rounds in 1990 before being knocked down in the 12th.

His wealth is now gone and he has been in Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the past few years.

Taylor is currently out on bail awaiting trial in January in Philadelphia on an attempted rape charge.

If approved by the Hawaii State Boxing Commission on Monday, the Taylor-Heath fight will be held in the Hawaii Ballroom of the Sheraton Waikiki, which can seat up to 2,500 people.

Tickets are priced at $20, $40, $60, $80, $125, and $200.

Tanenbaum insisted Taylor is both mentally and physically competent to fight anyone. He said newspaper reports that Taylor was banned for life in New Jersey are false.

A Star-Bulletin story published yesterday referred to an April 1998 decision by New Jersey Athletic Control Board commissioner Larry Hazzard to issue the ban against Taylor.

It reportedly came after the fighter applied to make a comeback in Atlantic City after a 17-month layoff. References to the ban can be found in at least three major daily newspapers in the East. But Hazzard yesterday denied he ever issued it.

"Let me say this, I don't issue a lifetime ban," said Hazzard. "He (Taylor) may not have been issued a license at that time. I remember there was some concern about Meldrick Taylor. But I can't really be that specific."

But Hazzard sounded emphatic when he was quoted by reporters the day he denied Taylor's application.

"I believe his skills have eroded to the point where he should not be permitted to fight again," Hazzard was quoted as saying in a story by Dave Weinberg of The Press of Atlantic City.

Weinberg and Philadelphia Daily News boxing writer Bernard Fernandez both said yesterday there's no doubt about what they heard Hazzard say concerning the ban.

They can not understand why he is no longer owning up to it.

Taylor has fought five times since 1998 but has not sought another license in New Jersey.

Hazzard was also reported to have said that he hoped the suspension would be followed by other states.

But because Hazzard denied Taylor's license application before receiving medical reports, Taylor was never placed on the national suspension list.

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