ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Meldrick Taylor was seconds away from winning, in fine fashion, his second world title, and the boos were cascading down from the 2,000 fans in the Atlantic City Convention Center. What's wrong with this picture?
From Taylor's viewpoint, nothing. He literally ran off with Aaron Davis' World Boxing Association welterweight title Saturday night, and nothing -- not the catcalls of the crowd nor the exhortations of referee Arthur Mercante that he mix it up -- was going to tempt Taylor into repeating the mistake that cost him his watershed fight with Julio Cesar Chavez last March.
"If I had gone out there and fought [the 12th round], I would have fought a dumb fight," said Taylor, who won his second fight since that heart-stopping TKO loss to Chavez that came with two seconds left in the 12-round bout. "There wasn't no [repetition] of the Chavez fight. I had won 11 rounds. Why fight stupid in the last round?"
According to promoter Dan Duva, Taylor's first defense will come against Luis Garcia, an undefeated, mandatory challenger from Venezuela. Then, Duva and Taylor would like to see a Chavez rematch followed by a fight against Hector Camacho, another Duva fighter.
Saturday, Taylor started fast, negating Davis' height and reach advantages with superior hand speed and a disciplined body attack.
"Meldrick's starting to learn now," trainer George Benton said. "That's why they put reverse in automobiles, to get you out of trouble."
Except for the fifth and sixth rounds, when Davis (32-1) began to score with jabs and combinations, Taylor (26-1-1) rarely was in trouble. Still, Davis, who won the title in July with a ninth-round TKO over Taylor's stablemate Mark Breland, continued to cry robbery after the bout.
"The judges beat me," said Davis, 23, whose battered and swollen eyes told a different story.