For the past three months, Emmanuel Taylor has been training at the Charm City Boxing facility in White Marsh hungrier than ever.
Taylor (14-1, 10 knockouts) suffered his first professional loss this past November at the hands of Prenice Brewer when he made a crucial mistake, one that he says he will never make again — he left the fight in the judge's hands.
"I said to Emmanuel, 'You lost the first round,' " said David Sewell, Taylor's trainer of 10 years.
Then Sewell said he told Taylor to go back to the plan.
At the end of the eighth round, there was no doubt in his mind that Taylor had won the fight.
Taylor lost in a controversial split decision and continues to think about that fight to this day.
"It was a devastating loss. I thought I won five rounds to his three rounds; one judge didn't see that," Taylor said. "The crowd was booing. Everyone thought that I won. … It's always going to be in the back of my head. I think about it every day. I just train extra hard in the gym. Don't leave it in the judge's hands at all. When it comes to it, I have to knock him out."
Ever since, Taylor has been training twice a day, awaiting his chance to get back into the ring.
Tonight, the Edgewood Arsenal native will face Angel Rios (9-10, six knockouts) — a boxer who has yet to be knocked out in his professional career.
But Taylor, son of Maryland Hall of Fame boxer Maxell Taylor Sr., will be the first to tell you that his goal is not to knock out Rios.
"If the knockout comes, it comes, but I've seen it all," Emmanuel Taylor said. "I know what's coming. I know what he is going to bring to the table. I'm real confident. Nothing worries me. As a fighter, he's all right, he's nothing special."
Taylor has been training the same way he always has since he was 8 years old — poised and focused.
While working out, he barely mutters a word. Before fights, he walks around in his own world, waiting for the bell to ring.
He uses his quiet persona to his advantage.
Most of the time he is expressionless, but when the bell rings, something changes — he transforms.
"He's quiet until he gets in the ring," Sewell said. "When that bell rings, 'bang,' he's a whole different dude. That's why he got his name, 'Tranzformer.' "
"Some people think something is wrong with me," Taylor said.
"Yea, until you put them gloves on," Sewell added.
Sewell has been around boxing for 32 years, and he still remembers the first time he set his eyes on Taylor when he was just 11 years old.
"His father brought him to the gym, and as I was watching him train, I saw that he had it," Sewell said. "I saw that he was special."
From then on, Taylor and Sewell have trained together.
In Taylor's combined amateur and professional career, he has fought in about 225 bouts — a little over 210 as an amateur and 15 as a pro. He has been fighting for 13 years, so he says he has seen it all.
"I've seen everything now since I've been boxing," Taylor said. "I've seen the slugging, fighting, boxing, brawling. I've learned that when a fighter comes towards me, I can see what he is going to bring to the table automatically."
After the first round, Sewell and Taylor say they can see what a boxer is going to do and make the necessary adjustments.
For tonight's six-round bout, the plan is simple: attack.
"We're going to go to his body," Sewell said. "[Rios] is going to be aggressive, so he's going to eat jabs all day. He likes to throw a lot of lead right hands, so when he throws a lead right hand, we're going to smother him and hit him with a hook and take his strength away."
Before tonight's bout, it is unlikely you will see Taylor showing any type of emotion. He'll lace up his gloves anticipating the opportunity to bounce back from his loss, but nobody will be able to tell what he is thinking. He has a stern poker face.
But after Taylor and Rios touch gloves, all should be ready to witness his transformation.
If you go...
WHEN: Tonight (first bell 7 p.m.; doors 6 p.m.)
WHERE: Club One Fitness, 1131 Benfield B'lvd. Millersville, 410-729-3900
TICKETS: $75 ringside, $50 general admission — at the door
INFORMATION: Jeter Promotions (443-882-6101); United Boxers (301-873-7064)
Brandon Quarles, 7-0-0 (2 KOs), Alexandria, Va. vs. Omar Sims, 6-4-3 (3 KOs), Baltimore, (junior middleweights/6 rounds)
Tony Jeter, 12-3-1 (9 KOs), Columbia vs. Jose Felix, 11-11-2 (4 KOs), Richmond Hill, Va. (UBO All-American middleweight title/8 rounds)
Venroy July, 9-0-2 (3 KOs), Suitland vs. Zeferino Albino, 4-13-3 (2 KOs), Philadelphia (cruiserweights/4 rounds)
Emmanuel Taylor, 14-1-0 (10 KOs), Baltimore vs. Angel Rios, 9-10-0 (6 KOs), Bronx, N.Y. (junior welterweights/6 rounds)
Sherman Artis, 2-0-0, Severn vs. Allen Perkins, 1-5-0, Frederick (junior middleweights/4 rounds)
Lee Snow, 0-2-0, Baltimore vs. Stephen Franklin, 0-6-0, Martinsburg, Va. (middleweights/4 rounds)
Plus five amateur bouts