Jermain Taylor's comeback will continue on April 20 in what is a mild, at best, step up from his December fight, as he will indeed face Caleb Truax on ShoBox: The New Generation, in a "special" edition of the show, which at this point is pretty much just what the show has become, sad as it is.
Promoter Lou DiBella, to be fair, is being pretty honest about what the fight is, and isn't trying to sell this as some enormous test for the former world middleweight champion:
"I thought Jermain had a very good performance against [Jessie] Nicklow after 26 months out of the ring, but what I want to see is a better performance against a slightly better opponent," Lou DiBella, Taylor's promoter, told ESPN.com on Tuesday.
Truax (18-0-1, 10 KO) probably does fit the role of "slightly better than Jessie Nicklow," but that's as far as it should go. Taylor was earlier rumored to be facing Joachim Alcine, a former junior middleweight titlist now past his past days, but that fell through, and Truax, a Minnesota club fighter, became the targeted opponent.
I have mixed feelings about this one. Heaven knows I'm happy to call out bad fights, but I'm not certain how big of a mismatch this will be -- obviously Taylor will be the heavy favorite, but we're still talking about a 33-year-old fighter who has had one fight in the last two and a half years, and and may or may not really have anything left in the tank. Beating Truax won't prove whether he does or doesn't, most likely, but he's being inched along.
Why Showtime is going along with it and making themselves the exclusive home for a fighter whose star didn't just burn out but basically exploded, well, that's up to you to decide for yourself. Either you think there's something goofy going on at Showtime these days (and Taylor is a Haymon fighter), or you think it's a worthwhile investment, which is debatable at best. Showtime's picking what appear to be a lot of strange bricks to build their boxing programming lately, but a lot of them have plenty in common.
It's not that I don't think Jermain Taylor doesn't have a place on Showtime, or HBO, or TV in general -- my question is more whether or not Taylor vs Nicklow or Truax really needs to be on Showtime. What's the eventual upside here? He fights Sergio Martinez, Matthew Macklin, or Andy Lee (DiBella's other three middleweights)? That's not going to happen for a while. So how many "Jermain Taylor comeback trail" fights do you have to buy to get a good one, and how much is that good one really worth compared to everything added up?
Also on the card will be another bizarre Showtime spoonfeeder between Erislandy Lara and Ronald Hearns, which is apparently SUCH a good fight that it has survived through three or four different dates at this point.