BY MIKE HOUSER
Marketing, business development, governmental public relations, is it possible that Joey Gilbert needs another job title?
The 27-year-old Gilbert will be making an appearance in his capacity as a professional boxer when he faces Anthony Sanza, of Napa, Calif., in a four-round super middleweight fight tomorrow in the Circus Maximus Showroom of Caesars Palace.
Gilbert, a former three-time National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) national champion for the University of Nevada, will be stepping in the ring for the first time since July 26, 2002, when he stopped Travis Biechler in one round in Las Vegas.
A May 2003 graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, Gilbert nearly added the title of attorney to his resume in August. Gilbert finished with a score of 74 - just one point shy of passing the Nevada bar exam.
"It was tough on my pride, but I always search for the good," said Gilbert, who won the national title in his sophomore, junior and senior years at Nevada. "I'm going to know law better since I'll have studied it twice. I'm an optimist. I came within one win of winning the (NCBA) national title (as a freshman). Like my mentor Mills Lane told me, 'Keep your chin down, move forward and keep punching.'"
Indeed, if there is one phrase that would best encapsulate Gilbert, it's "always moving forward." Gilbert, who is currently living in Las Vegas, will take another crack at the bar exam in February, but his first rematch will be against Sanza, a former kickboxer whom Gilbert stopped in one round at Harrrah's Reno on July 20, 2001.
"I take nothing away from (Sanza), even though I knocked him out," said Gilbert, who is 4-0, with 4 knockouts, all within the first two rounds. "I've been off a year and a half. He's been fighting (since their first match). I'm not one-tenth of where I should be. I'm not in shape. I have a problem with my timing. Yeah, (being off 18 months) will make a difference. But he will go down. It's not going to be a four-round unanimous decision type of fight."
Gilbert said he works from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. He said he manages to train for two hours at Gold's Gym during the day, where he has been working with trainer Kenny Rayford for the last two weeks. Gilbert said he trained with UNLV boxing coach and former professional boxer Skipper Kelp the previous four weeks.
"It's the hardest balancing act since law school," Gilbert said. "I have plenty of time to work (for a living), but I have a smaller window - maybe two years - as a boxer. I need to get some sponsors and some support until I can make it to 15-0."
Gilbert, no stranger to overtime, hopes to punch out early against Sanza, who brings in a record of 3-10 (1).
In the headliner, Derek Bryant, 17-1 (14), of Philadelphia, Pa., will face Jovo Pudar, 20-1 (10), of Queens, N.Y, in a 10-round heavyweight contest. The bout is one of six presented by Cedric Kushner Promotions in its latest edition of the Everlast Heavyweight Explosion series.
The 32-year-old Bryant, known as the "One Man Riot," had won 16 in a row before being stopped in nine by Erik Kirkland on March 31. Pudar, also 32, has won his last 13 bouts.
There are three other heavyweight bouts, including Charles "Buddy" Hatcher, of Columbus, Ohio, and Gilbert Martinez, of Sacramento, who meet in the eight-round semi-main event.
Hatcher, 14-4 (10), is making his first return to the ring since he was stopped in nine rounds by undefeated heavyweight contender Dominick Guinn in April at Caesars. In southpaw Martinez, 16-6-1 (7), he is facing a fighter that is coming off his best performance. Martinez took a 10-round split decision over Charles Shufford three weeks ago, in Tunica. Miss.
Two New York heavyweights mix it up when Prince Majestic (also known as Yacoubou Moutakilou), of the Bronx, squares off with Kevin Hale, of New York City, in a six-round affair. Majestic is 9-1-1 (5) and Hale is 13-4-2 (5).
In the other heavyweight bout, Sione Asipeli, of Las Vegas via Tonga, will meet David Bostice, of San Bernadino, Calif. Asipeli went 10 rounds in a losing cause against IBF cruiserweight champion and current heavyweight James Toney in March 2002, in a non-title bout.
Asipeli has a record of 17-9-2 (8) and Bostice is 30-7-1 (14).
International Female Boxing Association (IFBA) and Women's International Boxing Association (WIBA) minimumweight (105 pounds) titlist "Vicious" Vaia Zaganas, of Las Vegas, and Stephanie "All Action" Dobbs will meet in a six-round rematch of their Feb. 15, 2002, encounter, in which Zaganas took a unanimous six-round decision.
Zaganas is 13-2 (6) and Dobbs, of Moore, Okla., is 8-12-2 (5). Dobbs, who is the female equivalent of Mickey Ward, in that she never is in a dull fight, has had 22 fights in her 20 months as a professional.
Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7.
Tickets are $15, $20, $30, and $40 and can be purchased at Guest Services (24 hours daily) and at the Lake Tahoe Gateway, both of which are inside Caesars, or by calling (800) 648-3343. They can also be purchased at all TicketMaster locations and at ticketmaster.com.