Former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor is going with Ozell Nelson as his head trainer for his upcoming rematch with Kelly Pavlik in February, surprising some who expected that Taylor would reunite with Pat Burns, the man that led him to the middleweight crown with two wins over Bernard Hopkins.
If it was me, I think I would've gone back to Pat Burns. But I don't know all the facts and feelings between Taylor, Burns and Nelson, other than the fact that we've heard several times that Pat Burns and Ozell Nelson have a strained relationship at best.
Taylor said, "I feel good about it, me and Coach. He listens to me. It's not 'It's going to be this way or no way.' I'm the one in there. It's important he listens to me, too. ... He realizes I'm the one in there, and when I tell him in the later rounds of a fight that I'm tired, he listens. In the past fights it hasn't been like that."
Taylor and Steward, you'll recall, had some serious communications difficulties during his fights against Wright, Ouma, Spinks and Pavlik, a stretch in which Taylor went 2-1-1 and didn't impress with the two wins, which were looked at as very soft wins over undersized challengers Ouma and Spinks.
Against Wright, their first fight together, Steward had trouble getting Taylor to stay in the center of the ring, where he was winning the fight. When backed into the ropes, Winky was allowed to use his craft to compensate for his lack of speed and power, scoring with nice combos that busted Taylor up. Against Spinks, Steward became positively livid with Taylor for not pressing the action.
There are no hard feelings between Taylor and Steward, it appears, which is nice. It seems like two professionals that went, "You know what? This isn't working."
As for Burns and Nelson, it looks like it's same old, same old for those two.
Burns said Taylor called him about two weeks ago, and that they seemed to have made a deal to work together again.
"I guess you will have to talk to Jermain. I wish him luck. He's gonna need it. What can I say? I could sit there and give you 15 different reasons why he shouldn't, but he made his choice. You make certain decisions and you live with it."
He didn't stop there.
"I took Jermain from zero fights, won two title fights and beat Hopkins twice and we were preparing for Winky Wright, but Ozell wanted to bring in Emanuel Steward. It was Ozell's decision. Jermain went quickly downhill to the point where he got knocked out by Kelly Pavlik. ... But ultimately you have to make your own decision. It sounds like Jermain is letting people make decisions for him that he needs to evaluate. Some of the decisions that were made were not so good. In this case, Jermain has decided to listen to Ozell. ... I'm not mad at Jermain. I wish him the best. I think it's a terrible mistake but I wish him luck. I hope Ozell, who has never trained a professional fighter, has learned enough from me and Emanuel."