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Brinkley favored over Gilbert

BY MIKE HOUSER

Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Northern Nevada boxing fans all have their own reasons for picking a winner in the much-anticipated Jesse Brinkley-Joey Gilbert fight, but the Cal-Neva Sports Book has applied its own formula to the Feb. 14 event.

The Cal-Neva has made Brinkley, 31-5 with 21 knockouts, a minus-180 favorite (a $180 bet on Brinkley wins $100) and Gilbert, 17-1 (13) with 1 no-decision, a plus 160 underdog (a $100 bet on Gilbert wins $160).

The Casino Fandango has yet to post odds on the fight, but Dan Shapiro, director of marketing for Lucky’s Race & Sports Book, said the line would be released in Carson City next week.

Thirty-two-year-old Yerington native Brinkley gave his take on the Cal-Neva’s odds while watching football Sunday at his training camp in Providence, R.I.

“I’m gonna lay my money on myself,” said Brinkley, who will defend his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt in the 12-round contest, which will be held at Reno Events Center. “I’m going to kick his ass. How could he be favored or even money when he has five job titles.”

Brinkley belittled Gilbert for his many interests outside the sport, saying they are a disadvantage when compared to a full-time fighter like himself.

“He’s a boxer, he’s a lawyer, he’s a commentator, he’s a model, he’d like to be a mayor or a governor ” he labels himself this and that, this and that. I’m not going to let someone with five different titles beat me,” Brinkley said.

To his credit, the 32-year-old Gilbert, a three-time national champion for the University of Nevada club boxing team, also once held the USNBC and WBO-affiliated North American Boxing Organization middleweight belts and was ranked as high as No. 4 by the WBO.

Brinkley is currently ranked No. 11 by the IBF.

Gilbert, of Reno, seemed to relish his role as the official underdog in this fight.

“I love it. I prefer it that way,” Gilbert said Sunday. “I’ve always been the underdog: Since I was at Nevada when I was 19, since I was in the Golden Gloves (he won the Nevada state light middleweight Golden Gloves championship after graduating from Nevada), since my first pro fight, since I was on (the NBC reality boxing show) ‘The Contender’ ” I love it. It suits me.

“As the fight draws nearer, the money (line) will even out ” and I’m going to win the fight.”

Brinkley, who will face “Gentleman” James Johnson in a six-round light heavyweight bout Saturday at Howard University, in Washington, D.C., said Gilbert doesn’t realize just how serious he is when he says he’s going to beat him.

“He says I’m playing games,” Brinkley said. “This is boxing. You don’t play games. This is boxing. I’m disgusted he would thinks he can beat me when he has five job titles. No way.”

Gilbert wasn’t fazed by what he perceives to be Brinkley’s rhetoric.

“I hope Jesse keeps talking,” Gilbert said. “Let Jesse do what he does best ” talk. I’m going to do what I do best ” win.”

Although Gilbert has won eight of his last nine fights (his Sept. 21, 2007, victory over James Howe was changed to a no-contest after he tested positive for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol) since he suffered his only loss to Peter Manfredo Jr. on “The Contender,” Brinkley said his opponent hasn’t fought the right opposition to give him a chance in their bout.

“He says my first 15, 16 opponents were jokes. He’s only got (19) guys (overall),” Brinkley said. “Peter was the first guy he fought, and Joey got his ass handed to him. That was reality TV boxing. Even the judges saw something different than what was really going on in the ring (Gilbert loss via five-round technical decision after a head butt resulted in his being cut and the fight stopped). I was there.

“They (the editors) made it look like Gilbert was coming back, but Peter was laying on the ropes on purpose.”

On Feb. 14, all the odds and all the talk will cease to matter.