BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO " In Grelton, Ohio, there are no stoplights " just four stop signs " and the only time what little traffic there is in the little town comes to a halt is when the grain trucks roll on by.
Middleweight Charles Howe is a perfect fit for Grelton. He's reserved, quiet, gentlemanly. The owner of a used car lot, the personable 33-year-old lets his hair hang down in the boxing ring.
Howe has been boxing since he was 5 and turned pro when he was 17 after competing in roughly 70 amateur contests. He has one daughter and his wife, Aryelle, is set to give birth to their second child. Howe doesn't know if it will be a boy or a girl.
"It's one of the few times I like to be surprised," said Howe, who said he got a big surprise when Reno's Joey Gilbert stopped him in 2 minutes and 16 seconds Sept. 21 at the Grand Sierra Resort, in Reno.
It was the first time Howe had ever been stopped as a professional.
Ever since he found out that the 32-year-old Gilbert initially tested positive for six banned substances after their fight, Howe good-naturedly listened to Aryelle inform him of whatever developments on Gilbert popped up on the Internet.
On Tuesday, Howe got the news he had been waiting for: His only knockout loss had been erased from the record books after the Nevada State Athletic Commission had changed the result to a no-decision.
In addition, the commission fined Gilbert $10,000 and tacked on another 40 days' suspension. Gilbert, in an amended stipulated agreement with the commission and the Nevada Attorney General's Office, admitted to having only one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol in his system when he fought Howe.
The soonest Gilbert, now 15-1 with 11 knockouts and 1 no-contest, can return in Sept. 22.
"I want to apologize to Charles Howe," Gilbert said following Tuesday's hearing at the Reno City Council Chamber's office. "I accept my responsibility for the metabolite. I didn't try to break the rules. I don't know if he takes supplements. I hope he'll accept my apology. I trained hard for that fight. I know he did, too."
After hearing of Gilbert's apology, Howe chuckled for a moment, sighed and responded.
"Yeah, I guess I accept the apology," said Howe, now 17-4-2 (9) with 2 no-contests. "In the boxing world, to give him a year (of temporary suspension) served is about as much as can be served. The no-contest, in boxing eyes, is much better (than the TKO). Unfortunately, it happened against me. At the time (of the stoppage), I could've had other big offers because it had been hard to put me out in other fights."
In point of fact, nobody else has, including middleweight contender John Duddy, who notched a 10-round unanimous decision victory over Howe June 28, in Boston. Duddy, 25-0 (17), is ranked No. 2 at 160 pounds by the WBC and WBO and has been mentioned as a possible opponent for middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
"One thing I can say, it's over. They ruled it a no-contest," Howe said. "I thought from the start that's what should've happened. It is what it is. It's over and that's boxing."
Howe said he's forgiven Gilbert, but not forgotten. He still has questions.
"It is in the past, but why did he have to take all of that to enter the ring?" Howe said of Gilbert, who admitted taking up to 72 supplements before the fight with Howe. "I was clearly clean. I took absolutely nothing."
After standing up to the powerful Duddy's punching power for 10 rounds, Howe said he looked back on his fight with Gilbert with different eyes. For one, he said that there was a qualitative difference in Gilbert's power when compared to that of Duddy and some of Howe's hard-hitting sparring partners.
"I noticed it in the ring. There was a big difference," Howe said. "I could tell and feel it in the ring. John Duddy is one of the top fighters in the world. He's knocking everybody out. With Gilbert, it was totally different. I saw tapes of him before. He wasn't that big of a puncher. At the weigh-in, he looked really big at the weigh-in. We all put weight back on, but he filled back out tremendously. I always put 10 pounds back on. He looked really big."
Asked if he wanted another go at Gilbert, Howe sighed.
"I could care less if I had a rematch. After him pulling all that, there's no reason to fight him," Howe said. "How do you screw up a drug test? Do you know how many times I've been tested? I take nothing away from him, but I don't have to fill my body up with other substances to fight."
Howe said his fight with Duddy should bring him some other opportunities in the near future.
"I'll be back in the ring before too long," Howe said. "I've had several offers. I'll take the right one and move on."
A loud, arrogant fighter can draw attention, but Howe's understated voice has a way of resonating, especially when he spoke about welterweight Oscar Diaz, who underwent brain surgery after collapsing during his EPSN-televised fight with Delvin Rodriguez, in San Antonio.
The 25-year-old Diaz is only beginning to come out of a medically induced coma. Neither Diaz nor Rodriguez had tested positive for banned substances.
"It's scary to think of Oscar Diaz. I'm glad something like that didn't happen in this fight (with Gilbert)," Howe said. "One punch can change your life."
The possible negative consequences of boxing are something Howe, Gilbert and any other fighter can do without.
Coming Friday: Mike Houser's Boxing Blog
Why there was such a big backlash against Joey Gilbert after he tested positive for banned substances.
Beginning Friday, log on to https://www.nevadaappeal.com/boxingblog