ABOVE: “Marvelous” Marquis Taylor (Photo by Medron White)
On July 8th, a rising African American boxer from Houston, TX, made his way to the boxing ring at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Theater in Atlantic City, NJ, for arguably the biggest fight of his career—debuting at the 160-pound limit.
That local fighter’s name is “Marvelous” Marquis Taylor, and he had something to prove.
Not only did Taylor head to the ring representing his beloved high school alma mater by wearing crimson and gold trunks, but the 2012 Jack Yates High School graduate also walked to the ring with his entourage playing the iconic hit Houston anthem “Maan!” paying homage to legendary Houston rap legend and fellow Jack Yates alum Big Pokey, who passed away the month prior.
Taylor, an impressive 29-year-old burgeoning fighter, entered the fight with a 14-1-2 record with 1 KO. Coming into the fight, he had also successfully defeated four straight fighters, who had never lost a fight prior to facing him.
Taylor’s recent fight—which took place on “Showtime Championship Boxing” as a co-main event boxing match—was against a 25-year-old, previously undefeated and hard-hitting Cuban boxer named Yoelvis “La Joya” Gomez. Gomez had a 6-0 record entering the fight, with 5 KOs.
On top of that, many boxing pundits predicted Taylor to lose the fight, with Gomez being a 4 to 1 favorite to defeat him in their scheduled 10-round middleweight match.
Taylor refused to let that deter him, as he came to the ring focused on winning, proving his non-believers wrong, making a major statement, and walking out victorious once again.
Taylor got going early and put Gomez on the canvas in the second round. Taylor stayed aggressive and refused to allow Gomez to bully him or control the fight. After going the full distance in the 10-round middleweight bout, Taylor secured a unanimous decision over the favored Gomez—winning all three of the judges’ scorecards: 96-93, 99-90, and 96-93.
After the unanimous victory, the Forward Times caught up with Taylor at the Prince Boxing Gym, where he trains, to learn more about him and talk about what’s next in his boxing career.
Taylor states that he started boxing when he was seven years old and was influenced to pursue the sport of boxing because of his father, Stacy, and his older brother, Zacary.
“My dad introduced me to boxing because my older brother had gotten into it,” says Taylor. “I wanted to follow in my brother’s footsteps and do what he did, so I started boxing at 7, when my brother was about 10. I haven’t looked back since.”
Taylor’s father, Stacy, has been in his corner (no pun intended) every step of the way, and takes pride in his son’s boxing career, as well as him being able to represent Houston at the highest level possible, especially Jack Yates High School.
“Not only am I a 1987 graduate of Jack Yates, but my mother is a 1961 JY graduate, and my grandmother was part of the first graduating classes of JY,” said Stacy, who used to box himself. “Marquis’ mother is also a 1987 graduate of Jack Yates, and her father is a 1961 graduate of Jack Yates. Marquis is a fourth-generation JY graduate, so crimson and gold is in his blood.”
Stacy states that he introduced his sons to all sorts of sports, such as basketball, baseball, and football, but they both had a knack for boxing and that is what they stuck with.
“I wanted them to play tennis, but it was too expensive for us at the time, so we gravitated to boxing,” said Stacy. “We started off in Third Ward at P.A.B.A. with Reverend Ray Martin, and that is where they cultivated their skills and helped them thrive in the sport as amateur boxers.”
Taylor said that he looked up to boxers such as Roy Jones Jr., Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, and Andre Ward, and took a little bit of their styles to help perfect his game. He states that at around nine years old, he realized he could really go higher and successfully compete in the sport.
“When I was nine, Juan Diaz was the only world champion from Houston at the time, and when I saw him pull up in an Escalade truck with 24-inch rims on it, that is when I first found out that you could actually make money doing this and be successful,” Taylor said as he chuckled. “Ever since that day, I knew I was going to turn pro as a boxer.”
Taylor said that one of the biggest challenges that he faced on his journey was not coming out of the amateurs with a big promotional deal.
“It has taken a lot of patience, a lot of training, and staying in tip-top shape, without an identified destination” says Taylor. “You just have to be ready when your name is called, which is the most difficult thing, because you don’t know when, or if, you will get that call.”
Taylor states that when he was in the amateurs, he did not attend a lot of national tournaments and could not travel because he had other responsibilities, such as being in the band and trying to graduate from high school.
“I was never on the national scene, so a lot of people didn’t know about me,” says Taylor. “I turned pro without a deal and thought I would get one after turning pro, but I didn’t get one. I started taking whatever fights were available, but it worked against me because I was winning, and many promoters and matchmakers didn’t want me to fight their guys because there was a strong chance that I would beat them. Now, we just stay ready for any opportunity with anyone in the top 5, who is up for the challenge to fight me at either 154 or 160.”
Taylor says that he would like to fight Tim Tszyu at the 154-pound limit, but he believes that division is locked up right now. Taylor states that because undisputed super-welterweight (154lbs) champion Jermell Charlo is about to fight undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez on September 30th in Las Vegas, NV, and because Charlo and undisputed welterweight (147lbs) champion Terrance Crawford have both expressed interest in fighting one another after the Alvarez fight, he must focus on doing big things at the 160-pound limit.
Taylor states that he came up to the 160-pound limit to fight Gomez, and because he is ranked there now, he will stay there and look for other fights in that division.
“We are about to take over 160, because we feel as though nobody can beat me at 160, or 154,” says Taylor. “A lot of guys moved out of 160, so it’s kind of empty right now, but there’s a guy named Carlos Adames who I’ll fight. I’m prepared to fight anybody to be honest with you. I’m just looking to fight the type of guys on the biggest cards, on Showtime Championship Boxing.”
One of the challenges in boxing is that it can get very political and cut-throat, and getting a shot at a world championship belt can be hard to come by. Taylor refuses to let that deter him. He says that a lot of the fighters that are top contenders now, fighting for belts, and getting bigger opportunities started off at the same time as he did or after. He has a huge chip on his shoulder.
“I have a huge chip on my shoulder, because I feel like I should have been one of the ones that was signed to a big promotional deal when I became pro, and I wasn’t chosen,” says Taylor. “Now I want the heads of the ones who were chosen, and who do have big promotional deals. It’s really ‘Me vs. Me’, so I don’t really care who they put in front of me. I hope to get on the Charlo vs. Canelo card or David Benavidez’ next card. I just want to keep fighting on the biggest cards in boxing. They need to see me. I am ready!”