With more than 900 registered heavyweights competing in the professional ranks, one would think that McDermitt's Tyler Hinkey would have a fairly easy time of getting one in the ring with him.
But Hinkey's promoter, chief executive officer Terry Lane of Let's Get It On Promotions, said that hasn't been the case. He said that at least four boxers who were scheduled to meet Hinkey in his upcoming bout have fallen by the wayside.
The good news for the 25-year-old Hinkey, 2-0-1 with 2 knockouts, is that he has an opponent - Mike Miller, 3-10-2 (2) - for his four-round bout Saturday at Freeport Hall, in Dorchester, Mass.
The right-handed Hinkey is coming off a one-round dynamite job of Travis Biechler on Feb. 22 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.
"What we wanted to avoid at all costs were guys who will just fall down," Lane said of matching Hinkey. "This guy has a terrible record, but he's been stopped only once and he's beaten a prospect (Dan Jambor) who was 6-1.
"The unfortunate thing is when you think you have a fight made, you get excuses from the opponents and managers - they come up with injuries you suspect aren't real. One fell off with marital problems. It's disappointing. You think of boxers as warriors who aren't afraid to fight. The truth of the matter is, some of them don't want to. They need to look in the mirror and ask themselves, 'Do I want to fight?'"
Fortunately for Hinkey, it appears that Miller, who is coming off a four-round majority draw with Jason Bergman on April 26, wants to do just that.
Hinkey said it didn't matter to him much one way or the other whom he ends up facing.
"The way I look at it, I've been sparring with some of the best guys at cruiserweight - there's nobody at their level of boxing ability," Hinkey said. "I don't worry about who I meet. I've got to go to work no matter who they put in front of me."
Hinkey, who has been sparring with IBF cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham, said he's been encouraged by what Cunningham and former IBF heavyweight titlist Chris Byrd have said to him.
"Chris Byrd told me I have all the potential to be a world champion," Hinkey said. "He said to just keep moving forward, keep up my head movement and slipping to the left and right. Steve told me I was really powerful."
And the 6-foot-1 Hinkey, who trains under Kenny Adams in Las Vegas, has been adding to his power. He weighed 272 pounds for his first pro fight - a one-round technical knockout over Dan Evenson on July 6 - and is now down to 242.
"I've been in the weight room, trying to put on more muscle," Hinkey said. "I want to bulk up with weights without losing hand speed. I'm also trying to adapt to putting defense to offense - if I slip a punch, I'd like to come back with something. I have the feeling I'm getting it down, getting better.
"There was a little bit of hesitation that can't be there. If I wait too long, the guy knows what I'm going to do."
Hinkey said the only thing he'd change if he could is to be more active. If things go well against Miller, Hinkey may get his wish. Lane said he is looking to match up his fighter on the undercard of the Jesse Brinkley-Jason Naugler fight June 13 at the newly constructed Reno Ballroom.
Lane said there was the possibility that Hinkey would fight in his first six-rounder in Reno and possibly get a rematch with his old nemesis, Alvaro Morales, whom he faced several times as an amateur and fought to a four-round draw as a pro on April 10.
"I'm comfortable with six rounds," Hinkey said. "In helping (IBF No. 2 ranked cruiserweight) B.J. Flores prepare for his fight, I boxed nine rounds. I feel fine going eight, nine rounds. In time I could go 10, 11, 12. I have no problem with it."
Hinkey credits his strength training for his improved endurance.
"I'm in better shape now," he said. "I don't have to cut weight. I can concentrate strictly on boxing. It's not a big deal anymore. It doesn't tear me apart anymore. I'm at the point where I can learn and apply it.
"I feel great. I still have good strength - I'm not getting pushed around. And I'm enjoying moving a little more. I feel faster. I feel stronger."
Hinkey said there is more to his life now than boxing. He said his son Kess - who will turn 2 on June 2 - is his inspiration.
"I'm seeing a lot more of him," Hinkey said of Kess, who stays with Tyler's parents, Val and Dave, in McDermitt. "In my time off, I go back to him. I spend all the time I can with him. He gives me extra drive."
It all adds up to make for a happier Hinkey as he navigates his way through the sometimes unpredictable waters of the early stages of his career.
NOTE: McDermitt super middleweight Derek Hinkey (Tyler's brother) has a new opponent for Saturday's fight as well. According to Lane, Richard "Bobo the Bull" Starnino, 8-3-1 (1), is out and Anthony Cannon is in.
The 27-year-old Hinkey, 4-1 (4), is looking to rebound from his first professional defeat to Tony Hirsch on Feb. 22. Hinkey will compete in his first six-rounder against the 25-year-old Cannon, 4-8 (1), of Saginaw, Mich.
The bout will also be held at Freeport Hall, in Dorchester, Mass.