Meldrick Taylor vs. John Meekins

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1989-01-21 : Meldrick Taylor 139¾ lbs beat John Meekins 138 lbs by RTD at 3:00 in round 7 of 12

Taylor Keeps Title; Bout Halted After 7
By Phil Berger, The New York Times, January 22, 1989

ATLANTIC CITY, Jan. 21— Meldrick Taylor beat John Meekins to retain his International Boxing Federation junior welterweight title today when Referee Steve Smoger, acting on the advice of the ringside physician, stopped the bout after the seventh round of a scheduled 12-rounder.

At that point, Meekins was a badly battered fighter. His right eye was cut and nearly swollen shut from Taylor's lightning-quick combinations. There were also cuts over Meekins's other eye.

For Taylor, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, it was a solid performance. When the bout was stopped, Taylor was leading by 69-64 on the scorecards of two of the judges, Richard Murry and Phil Newman, and by 70-64 on the scorecard of John Stewart, the other judge.

Taylor was obliged to overcome a bit of adversity. In the second round he suffered a small vertical cut over his left eye, near the bridge of the nose. It bled on and off through the rest of the fight. According to Lou Duva, co-manager of Taylor with Shelly Finkel, Smoger told the handlers in the champion's corner the cut was the result of an inadvertent butt by Meekins.

That meant that if the fight had to be stopped later because of Taylor's cut, the winner would be determined by the judges' scorecards at that moment.

"So," said Duva, "I turned Meldrick on."

Actually, Taylor was somewhat hesitant in the third round, seemingly concerned about the cut. Because of that he was backing away with his head exposed and getting hit with rights by Meekins.

From the fourth round on, Taylor became more aggressive. His handspeed was superior to Meekins's, and Taylor used it to nail hard left hooks to the head.

While there were no knockdowns, the damage that Taylor did seemed to answer the charge frequently made early in his career that he had no power in his flashy punches.

After the bout by which he won the title last September - a 12-round knockout over James (Buddy) McGirt - and today's match, Taylor said he had overcome his critics.

"People keep saying I can't punch," Taylor said afterward. "I started proving I can punch."

"He's maturing," said Duva. "They say that Julio Cesar Chavez is invincible. We'll see how invicible he is."

Chavez is the World Boxing Association/World Boxing Council lightweight champion and one of two big-money opponents the 22-year-old Taylor would like to fight. The other, he said after today's fight, is the winner of the March 6 junior-welterweight bout between Hector Camacho and Ray Mancini.

However, Taylor first must fulfill a mandatory bout obligation against Jong Jung Pacquining, who is from the Philippines.

With his victory today, Taylor is 21-0-1 with 12 knockouts. Meekins is 20-2-2 with 15 knockouts. [1]