Brinkley pounds out easy win over bloodied Gilbert
BY MIKE HOUSER
Special to the Nevada Appeal
RENO ” It would be easy to say that the “Civil War” ” Jesse Brinkley vs. Joey Gilbert ” is over, and that the South has risen again.
But that wouldn’t sit well with the 32-year-old Brinkley, of Yerington, who retained his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt with a one-sided beating and unanimous 12-round decision over Gilbert Saturday at Reno Events Center.
Brinkley, ranked No. 13 by the IBF and now 33-5 with 22 knockouts, doesn’t want to be known only as the pride of Yerington. He wanted all of Northern Nevada to embrace him, to call him one of its own.
And if the reaction of the 6,626 fans on Saturday was any indication, they have.
Now it’s time to see if the rest of America ” and maybe the world ” will welcome the down-to-earth, entertaining Brinkley into the fold, as he will hopefully be given the big fight he has earned.
Whether it’s IBF super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute or another champion at 168 or 160 pounds, Brinkley is ready to take on all comers.
“I’ll take the best offer for a world championship fight,” Brinkley said. “At this point of my career, money will have to be a part of it.”
The fans certainly got their money’s worth to see rivals Brinkley and Gilbert finally meet after more than three years of bad blood following their appearance on the NBC reality show “The Contender.”
Not only was Brinkley at the top of his destructive game, Gilbert ” in spite of trying to throw his opponent off his game (and drawing the wrath of the fans) by running from side to side ” put on a brave show all his own.
After Brinkley shattered his nose and dropped him in the fifth round, Gilbert was up at the count of one and went the distance when he could have easily called it a night.
Now 17-2 (13) with one no-contest, Gilbert will undergo a major nose reconstruction in one week.
Covered in gore and swallowing massive amounts of his own blood, Gilbert supplied awesome scenes yet to be captured even in cinema, exhaling giant clouds of red mist as blood poured from his nose into his throat and down his chest and onto his trunks.
And even if the crowd ” which soundly booed Gilbert before, during and after the fight ” wasn’t forgiving and forgetting, apparently Brinkley was.
Gilbert, whose septum was torn and his nose ripped completely away in spots from his facial bone, said Sunday that he and Brinkley “hugged it out at Renown” hospital.
“I asked him, ‘Is it squashed?'” Gilbert said of the bad blood between the two. “He said it was.”
Brinkley received stitches over his left eye from an unintentional head butt and was examined for a possible kidney injury, Gilbert said.
Just as the North and the South united and became a solid whole, it’s time now for fans of both fighters to appreciate what each gave them and have to offer in the future.
Gilbert said he will be back in spite of undergoing the fourth major surgery on his nose (“It’s always been my Achilles heel,” he said) and deserves the forgiveness and respect of local fans.
There’s only so long someone should be made to pay for a mistake, and Gilbert’s positive test for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol has been redeemed by his rarified display of raw courage to fight on even when he was hopelessly behind.
There will be those that criticize his tactics, but anyone who has ever stepped into the ring before and anyone who has ever suffered a broken nose and had to fight on, knows what kind of heart it takes to do what Gilbert did.
And this is a case where credit goes to those other than the fighters themselves. It’s a testament to promoters Chet Koerner and Reno’s Terry and Tommy Lane, who gathered such a great crowd on a night normally reserved for lovers, not fighters.
And for 25-year-old Terry and 21-year-old Tommy, it was a glorious evening. They proudly carried on the family business founded by their father, the legendary judge and referee, Mills Lane, who founded the business and later suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001.
And then there are the fans that, in spite of the current economic climate, turned out en masse to support their fighters.
February 14, 2009, turned out to be a night that will be remembered by locals for generations to come.
In many ways it was more significant than the fight on July 4, 1910 between Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries because from the fighters, to the promoters and to the fans, it was a memorable night made possible only because of Northern Nevadans. We may never live to see another quite like it.