Stakes are high for Brinkley's next fight

RENO -- More than a month before the two fighters were scheduled to meet each other in the ring, Jesse Brinkley and Curtis Stevens stepped inside the ropes Friday to hype their fight, but it's likely it doesn't need much hyping.

"I heard him say, we picked the wrong guy to showcase against to get the world title fight. We were both offered each other," Brinkley said.

Brinkley (34-5, 22 KOs) will face Stevens (21-2, 15 KOs) Jan. 29 in a super middleweight mandatory fight for the No. 2 International Boxing Federation world ranking at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Also announced Friday, hyping the event even more, is that it will be aired live on ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m.

This is the opportunity Brinkley, a Yerington native, has been looking forward to for a long time. But he warned that with a fighter like Stevens, who hails from the same Brownsville, N.Y. neighborhood as Mike Tyson and fights in his image, one wrong move could be the end of his title hopes.

"It's going to be a good matchup," said Brinkley, who started training five weeks ago in Rhode Island. "I don't need him reading any quotes; we're working on something completely different than we've every really worked on before.

"But we're going to have a gameplan because at this level stakes are high. One screw up and it's over."

Brinkley has been steadily on the rise and has been victorious in his past eight fights. His latest fight ended in a 10-round unanimous decision win over Mike Paschall on July 10. He also scored a 12-round unanimous decision over rival Reno boxer Joey Gilbert in February.

Brinkley is currently rated sixth in the IBF, while Stevens is 10th.

Stevens is on a four-fight winning streak. He is known for his big punch and knockout power with 15 of his 21 wins coming by way of KO - with 13 of those being executed within four rounds.

His fighting style and successful career thus far has him confident that not only will he put on a great show, but will walk out of the Grand Sierra Resort with a title shot against the current champ, Lucian Bute (25-0, 20 KOs).

"My main objective is to go in there and hurt you," Stevens said. "Style, it just comes down to who is the aggressor and I just want to go in there and get the job done. I don't get paid for overtime."


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