Brinkley respects Gilbert the fighter, not the person
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
(This is the second of a two-part story on Yerington super middleweight Jesse Brinkley, who will defend his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt in a 12-round bout against Reno’s Joey Gilbert at a site to be determined in Reno on January 30.)
“A scared animal is dangerous,” Jesse Brinkley said Tuesday as he prepared to go to bed at his training camp in Providence, R.I. “Even if you corner a little cat, it will scratch the hell out of you.”
That was one way Brinkley articulated why he wouldn’t dare underestimate a particular 168-pound cat named Joey Gilbert when the pair finally meets after several years’ worth of verbal sparring.
This was another.
“He’s tough-tough,” Brinkley said of Gilbert, “15-1 with 11 knockouts and 1 no-contest. “I believe (the outcome) will come down to conditioning down the stretch and who’s invested the most punishment in the first part of the fight. It comes down to styles and I think our styles match up well.
“Joey can get down. I’ve seen that. I was with him on (the NBC reality boxing show) ‘The Contender.’ Will he respect me as a fighter? He’ll have to prove it. I respect him as a fighter, not as a person. That’s one shysty, shysty, conniving person right there. I’m thankful he called me out. You know he must be in bad (financial) shape after the whole steroid thing.”
Brinkley was referring to the one-year suspension and $10,000 fine the 32-year-old Gilbert received from the Nevada State Athletic Commission following his September 21, 2007, first-round technical knockout of Charles Howe, of Grelton, Ohio, at the Grand Sierra Resort, in Reno.
Not only was Gilbert’s TKO ultimately changed to a no-contest after he tested positive for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol following his fight with Howe, Brinkley said his future opponent lost the respect of many Northern Nevada boxing fans.
“No one is mad at you for doing steroids, for doing drugs,” Brinkley said about Gilbert in the second person. “They’re mad at you because you lied. You have to stick your nose up people’s (butts) for them to like you. Just be yourself and don’t care if they like you or not.”
Such has been the credo of the Yerington bad boy, who isn’t afraid to pop a wheelie on his motorcycle or slam down a few shots at a bar. What you see is what you get. And back when he was on “The Contender,” Brinkley was perceived by locals as the Black Hat, the rowdy gunslinger from Yerington who wanted a piece of Sheriff Gilbert.
But times, Brinkley believes, have changed.
“It’s sad he didn’t give me this fight when he was the White Hat,” Brinkley said. “He was going to schools, preaching don’t do steroids, don’t do drugs. The roles have turned. Now I have kids on my shoulders. I didn’t pee bad in a bottle. I’m glad it’s going down this way. I want to be known as a real person, not a fake.”
Brinkley also ridiculed Gilbert for not fighting him when Gilbert was ranked No. 4 by the WBO and owned the USNBC and North American Boxing Organization middleweight belts.
“He said he had no experience,” Brinkley said of Gilbert, a three-time national champion for the University of Nevada club team and who went a combined 29-1 as an amateur. “(By comparison), I didn’t even have an amateur career (Brinkley was 3-3). He was on ‘The Contender’ like I was. He won his national belts before I did. He says he doesn’t have the experience to go around fighting me. He’s just like me: He doesn’t want to lose in the area.
“If he wasn’t in some kind of trouble, he’d never, never, never accept this fight. The only reason this is going down is I called his bluff and said, ‘I accept this fight (on Aug. 14).'”
Brinkley, 31-1 (25), said he’s benefited from fighting what he views as superior opposition.
“He was well protected and well matched,” Brinkley said. “He’s been matched with 147-pounders and 154-pounders. I’ve met cruiserweights and light heavyweights. In time I’ll get my bell rung by a big boy, but not this time.
“I’m training for a decision at the end. I’m going to fight this guy like I fight every other fighter. I’m not going to go out there and let my emotions take over. I’m going to fight smart and be strategic. I’m either going to do a (Jason) Naugler or a Dallas Vargas.”
Translation: Brinkley will win via punishing decision as he did against Naugler on June 13 or a punishing knockout, as he did against Vargas in 2007.
“It’s not a one-round fight,” Brinkley said. “When it comes down to letting it all go, I’ll do it like I do with other fighters. The only one who can screw up this whole show is me. I’ll be 32 in November. I’m a full-blown father. I’ve matured well. I’m not any faster and I’m not any slower.
“There’s no way, if I give it my all in training and go to this fight and if fist comes to shove and I bite down on my mouthpiece, there’s no way I’m going to lose to Joey Gilbert.”
Brinkley will fight an opponent to be named December 13 in Las Vegas, while Gilbert is expected to meet an opponent to be named October 30 in Maryland.
Brinkley said his next opponent and Gilbert stand in the way of his fighting an Allan Green, Jeff Lacy, Kelly Pavlik or Bernard Hopkins in a career-defining fight on the way to a world super middleweight title.
“I will beat this guy (Gilbert) for Reno, Yerington, Fernley, Fallon, Silver Springs, Dayton ” it’s going to be me,” Brinkley said. “Then it’s on to a megafight after that. I’m like Fernando Vargas after he beat Ike Quartey (in 2000). He said, ‘I want (Felix) Trinidad.’ I want a megafight. I’m in the same mindset. I know Joey’s the same way.”
Even though Gilbert passed a random drug test about a month ago and he’ll have to pass another one to be re-licensed in Nevada, Brinkley wouldn’t give his arch-rival the benefit of the doubt.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he has some good doctors giving him some (performance-enhancing drug) blockers so it doesn’t show up in his test,” Brinkley said. “That’s why I take him so seriously.”
So far, Brinkley-Gilbert has just been a war of words. On January 30, local boxing fans will just be looking for a war.