BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO " If Yerington super middleweight Jesse Brinkley had any pre-fight concerns about making the 168-pound weight limit for tonight's 12-round fight with Jason "Notorious" Naugler at Reno Ballroom, he laid them to rest by weighing in at a ripped-and-ready 167 pounds Thursday at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.
Canadian light heavyweight champion Naugler, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who will challenge the 31-year-old Brinkley for his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship belt, weighed in at exactly 168 pounds.
"I'm ready to rock," said Brinkley, 30-5 with 21 knockouts, who four weeks into his six-week training camp had only managed to get down to 175 pounds from 185. "I'm underweight now. I was just retaining water. I cut down on my salt and left in the protein."
In the 30-year-old Naugler, 18-7-1 (11), Brinkley will be facing an opponent who has never been knocked down or stopped in his pro or amateur career, which spanned 120 fights.
"I'm feeling mean," Brinkley said. "I feel mean as a fighter, not a human being. I'm looking forward to fighting this guy. I'm in condition for this guy. I'm in condition for 12 rounds. I'm not looking to be Superman or Spiderman, but if I wobble him I'll put his head five rows deep."
During Wednesday's pre-fight media staredown, there wasn't a sense of tension in the room. In fact, Naugler and Brinkley exchanged handshakes after both the press conference and the weigh-in. Naugler even had his picture taken with Brinkley, whom he had watched when he was on the NBC reality boxing show "The Contender."
"I'm not one of those guys who walk around acting tough and do that staredown (crap)," said Naugler, who is the first fighter from Halifax to win a Canadian championship since Roddy McDonald in 1982. "We're not here to see who has the dirtiest look. I like to get pictures of my opponents, the people I fight. I put them in a scrapbook. Someday I may not remember, I get hit in the head so much."
While Naugler had some good-natured fun at his own expense, he said he was hoping to be the first fighter since former heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson to bring Halifax a little notoriety. In particular, he'd like his father, David, to be proud of him.
"Wherever I fight (in Canada), he's in my corner " he's there with the stool or bucket," Naugler said of his father. "(In Halifax) I have a half-decent name. My dad gets some attention. I'm not going to say I'm a celebrity, but I'm pretty well-known as a tough Canadian boy who fights everybody."
A victory over Brinkley, who is ranked No. 14 by the WBO, would give Naugler a shot at some consequential fights in Halifax.
"Hopefully it goes well," Naugler said. "If I have this belt I could get some bigger names into town. If I win the belt, I could have some bigger opportunities in my hometown."
Brinkley, who is giving up about 2 inches in height to the 6-foot Naugler, said he wouldn't be underestimating his amiable opponent.
"He said, 'Thank you for fighting me. It's a great opportunity,'" Brinkley said Naugler told him before the press conference. "I was like, 'I wanted to fight Allan Green or Jeff Lacy, not your tough ass.' When he's fighting, he's not a nice guy. I'm looking forward to the fight and giving it hell. What else can I do.
"He's a big boy. (WBC light heavyweight champion Chad) Dawson couldn't drop him. I probably won't."
Naugler has never before competed in a 12-round bout, having only gone the 10-round distance. Brinkley has made it to the 11th round twice " when he was stopped by Joey Spina in 2006 and in his last bout, an 11-round knockout of Otis Griffin at the Silver Legacy in February.
There will be six other bouts on the card, all but one featuring local fighters, including McDermitt's Derek and Tyler Hinkey, Lovelock's Alfred "Little Bum" Happy, Carson City's Flavio Cardoza and Chad Forrester of Sparks.
Former Mongolian amateur star Batkhuu Otgonchuluun will make his professional debut against Omar Valencia, 0-1, in a four-round featherweight bout. Otgonchuluun, a former Asian Games champion, is trained by Nonito Donaire Sr.
The 34-year-old Forrester, 242, a former Reed High School student and now a driver for UPS, will be making his pro debut against Mike Goins, 0-1, 235, of Las Vegas. Forrester has one mixed martial arts bout under his belt. They will meet in a four-round heavyweight contest.
Cardoza, 1-2, will look to end the undefeated streak of Mark "The Italian Bazooka" DeLuca, 5-0 (3), of Whitman, Mass. The pair will meet in a four-round middleweight bout.
Happy, who is listed as 6-8 but is closer to 6-6, scaled in at 294 pounds. He is 5-0 (4) and will take on Alvaro Morales, 2-1-4, of Las Vegas. Morales, who weighed in at 278, fought Tyler Hinkey to a four-round draw in October.
Derek Hinkey, 4-1 (4), is looking to return to his winning ways after suffering his first-ever stoppage defeat (at the hands of Tony Hirsch) in February. He will meet Gabriel Gil, 3-0 (1), of Madera, Calif., in the six-round super middleweight bout, the card's co-main event.
The 27-year-old Hinkey had a fight fall out last month in Dorchester, Mass., but was there to help keep Tyler's head in the game when his fight with Mike Miller was delayed after the ropes broke in the third round.
"Mentally, it was a letdown, but at the same time I knew I had to keep my morale high because my brother was fighting," Derek said. "I didn't want to be negative. He had a job to do and I had to keep my mentality strong for him."
Derek said Tyler, who notched a four-round win against Miller, had his opponent ready to go when the ropes broke.
"Tyler was thinking blood " he knew it," Derek said. "He wanted to finish the guy. When the ropes busted, he lost focus. I settled him down. He got back in and did a good job."
Against Gil, Derek said he was looking to getting back to "go back to being me and not what someone else wants."
"I know I've got natural punching power and I supplement that with speed," he said. "Movement, speed and, for the third strike, power. I think everything happens for a reason. From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to tell everybody out there that they haven't seen the best of what I have to offer in the ring. I'm just beginning."
For his part, the 25-year-old Tyler, 3-0-1 (2), who scaled in at 250, will meet Mike Finney, 1-0, 239, of San Jacinto, Calif., in a four-rounder. He said he is happy to already be back in action after beating Miller on May 17.
"I feel good. I'm happy with the timing of everything," he said. "I had enough rest and things are back to where I have to be (with his conditioning)."
Tyler said he'd enjoy fighting again in front of a home crowd after traveling for his last fight and has found out something about himself since he turned pro nearly a year ago.
"I've learned I can use a jab and depend on it when I need to," Tyler said. "I don't have to depend on all power. I can mix it up with speed."
Doors open at 6 p.m. The first bout starts at 7.
Let's Get It On Promotions chief executive officer Terry Lane, who along with his brother Tommy will be presenting the card, said there were less than 800 tickets left. The Lanes scaled the seating capacity down to 2,000 from 2,500 for this event.
Tickets are $25, $50, $100 (ringside) and $150 (front-row ringside). Call (800) 687-8733 or visit the Silver Legacy box office or www.ticketmaster.com. for more information.