Tonight at 11 p.m. EST, ShoBox closes out our year of live round-by-round coverage (maybe, if I don't do one of the Japanese shows early tomorrow morning) with a double comeback in the middleweight and super middleweight divisions, as a pair of Super Six dropouts return to the ring tonight in California at the Morongo Casino.
In the 10-round middleweight main event, former middleweight champ and super middleweight contender Jermain Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KO) returns from a 26-month layoff to face 24-year-old Baltimore club fighter Jessie Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KO).
The setup here is that Taylor should do well and win -- Nicklow is not a terrible fighter, but he's a part-time guy with limited ability and little punching power. He's here as a safe opponent, and even Nicklow knows that (though he believes they've chosen the wrong man, of course).
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If Taylor struggles with a fighter at this level, it will be an indication that there's probably not much left in the 33-year-old from Little Rock, who once defeated Bernard Hopkins twice and has been an up-and-down question mark since then over the last five years.
Also returning to action is Andre Dirrell (19-1, 13 KO), who hasn't fought since a March 2010 DQ win over Arthur Abraham. I'll spare you any and all questions about why Dirrell hasn't fought since then, since I'm sure I've made my opinions about it pretty well known, and I'll say I'm intrigued to see him back if the idea is that he's actually going to target top fighters, but I still have reservations there, too.
He'll be facing fellow Michigan native Darryl Cunningham (24-2, 10 KO), a 37-year-old southpaw who was supposed to face Kelly Pavlik in August before Pavlik pulled another Kelly Pavlik.
In the opener of the televised triple-header, fans will get a chance to take a look at one of "The Irish Cubans," as light heavyweight Luis Garcia (11-0, 9 KO) faces Alexander Johnson (12-0, 5 KO) in an eight-round bout.
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Garcia, freshly 24 years of age, has talent coming out of his ears. There's a question about his level of dedication to boxing, however, as he tends to take long stretches of inactivity, including this one, where he's been out of the ring for 13 months. When he's on his game, he's special. But whenever you have to say that about someone, you obviously have to get ready for their career to be a letdown, and I suppose a ShoBox Upset Special would be as good a time as any.