It's a big sports weekend in the Jermain Taylor household.
Taylor will take on Alex Bunema in the main event of a card Saturday night at Alltel Arena in Little Rock, Ark., on HBO. Taylor's wife, Erica
Smith-Taylor, a junior guard for Louisiana Tech, will lead her team against Duke in the Sweet 16 of the Women's NCAA college basketball tournament in
"I told Jermain that he might be the best young prospect in boxing, but he might not be the best athlete in his own house," joked Lou DiBella,
Taylor's reply: "I'm the bread maker, so it has to be me."
"Erica is doing her job and I'm doing my job," Taylor added. "God willing, we'll both be winners (this weekend)."
Smith-Taylor has averaged 29.5points in two tournament games thus far, including a career-high 30 points against Texas Tech on Monday night to put the
Lady Techsters in the quarterfinals against Duke.
Taylor was in training in Miami and didn't make it to either of Erica's games last week. He said he will try to make it to her game in Norfolk, Va.,
on Sunday, "but if I don't, I'll be watching on TV."
Taylor (19-0, 14 KOs), a promising middleweight contender, has a chance to start couple's weekend on a winning note against Bunema (24-3-2, 12 KOs), a
gatekeeper for anyone who wants to go far in the junior-middleweight and middleweight divisions.
"He (Bunema) is a trial horse at the top end of the division," DiBella said. "If you're an elite boxer at 154 or 160 pounds you're supposed to beat
him. But he's beaten some very good boxers, like J.C.Candelo."
Taylor, 25, won a bronze medal for the U.S. boxing team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He has been carefully brought along by
DiBella, who made Taylor one of his Olympic bonus babies, and trainer Pat Burns.
Though Taylor has all the components to excel - a strong jab, good defense and power in both hands - Burns said the boxer, who is ranked in the top
five by two sanctioning organizations, is in an awkward place.
"He's just about there (ready for major matches)," Burns said. "However, the country doesn't know him that well. Financially, he has a ways to go to
make the kind of money that he deserves to make."
As far as competition, DiBella said the training wheels will come off after the Bunema fight. Taylor is the last of the blue-chip Olympians in
DiBella's cupboard and the push is on for a world championship.
"This is the last fight of the learning curve," DiBella said. "He's got to win this fight and he's got to look good. We want to be talked about in the
same conversations with guys like Fernando Vargas.
"He wins this fight and he looks good doing it, we sit down with HBO and we say let's make this guy a star and let's come up with a game plan."
Taylor said he is going to use Bunema to serve notice on all the other middleweight title contenders. "I need to look good in this fight," Taylor
said. "I want to make a statement that Jermain Taylor is on his way and he's coming to fight."