Brinkley stops Johnson in three; Gilbert up next | NevadaAppeal.com
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Brinkley stops Johnson in three; Gilbert up next

BY MIKE HOUSER

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

Jesse Brinkley removed the last roadblock separating him and Reno’s Joey Gilbert, and he did it with authority.

The 32-year-old Brinkley caught “Gentleman” James Johnson with a left hook to the liver to score a third-round knockout Saturday at Howard University, in Washington, D.C.

Brinkley, of Yerington, improved to 32-5 with 22 knockouts.

“I think I was over-pursuing. I was looking for an earlier one (knockout),” said Brinkley, who came in at 172 pounds and did not defend his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt in the scheduled six-round bout. “I was throwing big shots too early.

“In the third round, I calmed down and got behind the jab and hit him with a left to the body to end it.”

The 32-year-old Johnson, of Dallas, Texas, came in at 174 pounds. He fell to 23-31-3 (13).

“I saw some guys had stopped him in the earlier rounds, so I went out there and tried to get him out early,” Brinkley said. “I couldn’t do it. I had to go back to doing what I usually do and stopped him. I walked him down the whole time.”

It was the heaviest Brinkley had ever fought. He weighed in at 171 pounds against former WBC super middleweight champion Robin Reid. Reid is the last fighter to defeat Brinkley, who is on a six-fight winning streak.

“I felt good, actually,” Brinkley said. “He was able to get me with this and that, here and there; he hit me with a couple of left jabs, but I was pursuing him pretty heavy.”

If Brinkley was putting the pressure on Johnson in the ring, it pales in comparison to the energy he has been spending looking forward to his fight with Gilbert.

The pair will meet Feb. 14 at the Reno Events Center.

“I was focusing on him anyway,” Brinkley said of Gilbert. “To be honest, I never even thought about this guy (Johnson). I thought about Joey. That’s my whole motive in the sport ” go after Gilbert in Reno. It’s on.”

Brinkley is a minus-180 (a $180 bet wins $100). Gilbert is a plus 160 underdog (a $100 bet wins $160).

“I’ll be sharper down in weight,” Brinkley said of coming in at the catch-weight of 166 pounds against Gilbert, 17-1 (13) with 1 no-contest. “I’m going to tear his face off that night. It will be just me and him. We’ll go at it right then and there.”

In the meantime, Brinkley said it was time for a short break.

“I’m going to go out and have one Coors Light with everyone tonight,” Brinkley said. “Then I’m going to go home for Christmas with my family and everyone. Then I’ll go back to training and defend my belt.”