Brinkley looking to the future | NevadaAppeal.com

Brinkley looking to the future

MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – With a three-fight winning streak – all by knockout – now under his belt, Yerington super middleweight Jesse Brinkley is looking to put some hardware around his waist and break into the world rankings.

The re-dedicated Brinkley improved his record to 29-5 with 20 knockouts with his one-round destruction of Isaiah Henderson, of Kansas City, Mo., Saturday at Grande Exposition Hall in the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.

With his impressive performance, the 30-year-old Brinkley put the 23-year-old Henderson – now 11-7 (7) with 2 no contests – on the canvas three times to set himself up for a Feb. 8 rematch in Reno with Joey Spina.

Spina rallied with a body shot to notch an 11th-round come-from-behind victory over Brinkley in May 2006. Spina, now 20-1-1 (15), stopped Shannon Miller, of Columbus, Miss., in the fourth round in Saturday’s co-main event.

The 30-year-old Spina, of Providence, R.I., owns two regional belts – the WBC’s USNBC and IBF Intercontinental super middleweight belts – and shook off the rust against Miller after suffering a three-round knockout to Peter Manfredo Jr. in 2006.

Brinkley’s trainer – Peter Manfredo Sr. – said now is the time for Brinkley to turn it on and stay active as he looks to elevate his standing in the division.

“Jesse’s going to take two weeks off to go hunting, then I want him back in the gym,” Manfredo Sr. said. “I want to get him another fight (before Feb. 8) to keep busy. I want him right back. He’ll be training soon (with Manfredo Jr.) at Freddie Roach’s (Wild Card Gym, in Los Angeles). We want to keep him in condition and good shape.”

The 168-pound division could be the strongest in the sport and all of its champions are undefeated. WBO champion Joe Calzaghe, 43-0 (32), of Wales, has held his belt for 10 years and will make his division record-tying 21st consecutive defense of it Nov. 3 against Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, 39-0 (29), the WBC-WBA champ. Newly crowned IBF titlist Lucian Bute, of Quebec via Romania, is 21-0 (17).

Brinkley came in at a ripped 166 pounds for Miller, a late substitute for Donnell “Cadillac” Wiggins, who pulled out of the fight Oct. 20 because he couldn’t make weight.

Before blowing through Henderson, Brinkley stopped Dallas Vargas in a nine-round slugfest July 6 in Reno and Luis Lopez in six rounds three weeks prior in Idaho. Before his fight with Henderson, Brinkley said that he wasn’t exhibiting the power at 168 pounds that he did at 160.

But against Henderson, Brinkley’s heavy hands were on display in front of the rabid crowd of 1,400. He floored Henderson with a single right hand after finding the range with a left. A single overhand right did the job on the second knockdown before a left-right put Henderson down at the 2:05 mark.

“(Spina) did his job, I did mine,” Brinkley said. “We both got stoppages. I think I’ve earned it (the rematch against Spina). My close friend Peter Manfredo gave him a beating, but he doesn’t have (Spina’s) belts. I want them. I want to go after them. I’m going back to camp to get in better shape. I know I can go 12 rounds (against Spina, if he has to).”

The focus on Spina and some other things is in marked contrast to Brinkley’s prior obsession in fighting Reno’s Joey Gilbert, who is on temporary suspension pending a hearing after testing positive for six banned substances, including the steroid Stanozolol metabolite and the street narcotic methamphetamine.

The 31-year-old Gilbert, who is also a licensed promoter and attorney, is facing a minimum nine-month suspension – or longer – retroactive to his Sept. 21 bout with Charles Howe and is not currently allowed to promote, box, act as a cornerman or even attend a boxing match.

“In reality, I don’t believe a fight with Joey Gilbert is ever going to happen,” Brinkley said. “He’s not going to fight for at least a year. His confidence is so low that needs to take these supplements to fight that caliber of opponent, to get in the ring.

“The whole fight with Joey Gilbert and me was planned from the time we were on ‘The Contender.’ That’s why we didn’t fight each other on the show. Once we got to the show, he submarined me – he totally shafted me.”

Brinkley said Gilbert should come clean if his suspension is upheld by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which according to executive director Keith Kizer will have a hearing on Gilbert Nov. 18 in Las Vegas.

“I don’t feel sorry for him or me to not fight each other,” Brinkley said. “What’s he going to do after (the possible suspension)? It will be the end of him. I have a strong prediction – I’d knock him out. If he says he’s this or he’s this, let’s fight. I’m going to go on to bigger and better things.

“I’m going to fight Joey Spina. He’s a big, strong guy. He can stop you with any given punch – he’s the ‘KO Kid’ (Spina’s nickname).”

Brinkley said he has plans to work with the same promoter that has put on his last two bouts – Let’s Get It On Promotions.

“I’m going to work with Terry and Tommy Lane on a four-fight deal for 2008,” Brinkley said. “We’ll see where I’m going to go.”

The 20-year-old Tommy Lane said he and his brother would be delighted to add a fighter of Brinkley’s caliber to their stable, which includes McDermitt brothers Derek (a middleweight) and (heavyweight) Tyler Hinkey.

“We have all the minimums figured out,” Tommy Lane said. “We’re going to discuss a few more niches and then sign the contract. It’s almost signed. It would be great to sign Jesse. First of all, he’s an exciting fighter. People like to watch him fight. He’s won three in a row, all by knockout. We’re trying to get him Spina in February.

“If Joey Gilbert wants to fight Jesse Brinkley after Spina, we’ll have to put that on. We know everybody wants to see it. I think it’s an exciting fight.”

As for Brinkley, who with the right matchups is poised to finally break into the ratings of any of the four major sanctioning bodies after years of fighting as an independent, there appears to be even more exciting times ahead.