Gilbert isn’t afraid of Brinkley | NevadaAppeal.com

Gilbert isn’t afraid of Brinkley

MIKE HOUSER
Special to the Nevada Appeal
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal
Nevada Appeal | Nevada Appeal

RENO ” For Reno’s Joey Gilbert, Saturday’s showdown with Yerington’s Jesse Brinkley amounts to one thing: Vindication.

“Absolutely. I didn’t pick some nobody to make my comeback against,” said Gilbert, who will challenge the 32-year-old Brinkley for his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt in a 12-round bout at Reno Events Center. “For my fans, I want to show them that Joey Gilbert is still what he claims to be. I was a three-time national champion and a four-time

All-American (for the University of Nevada club boxing team). I was a Golden Gloves champion. I (screwed) up. I made a mistake. I’m a man. I was wrong.”

The 32-year-old Gilbert, 17-1 with 13 knockouts and 1 no-contest, was referring to his fall from grace after he reached a revised stipulated agreement in August with the Nevada State Athletic Commission in which he admitted testing positive for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol following his Sept. 21, 2007, bout with Charles Howe, of Grelton, Ohio.

After he and Brinkley had reached a degree of international fame following their appearance on the NBC reality boxing show “The Contender,” newspapers and Web sites ripped Gilbert all the way from Reno to Germany, where Der Berlin Kurier ran the headline “Dummste Doper Der Welt,” which translates to “The Dumbest Doper in the World.”

The one-round technical knockout over Howe was subsequently changed to a no-contest and Gilbert was fined $10,000 and suspended for one year. Once ranked No. 4 at 160 pounds by the WBO, Gilbert also was stripped of his North American Boxing Organization and USNBC middleweight belts.

Gilbert, who has since tested negative in random urine tests conducted by the commission, said he could relate to the plight of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who recently confessed to using steroids while playing for the Texas Rangers.

“‘The Contender’ was just over, I was under a tremendous amount of pressure, I had nine fights,” Gilbert said Wednesday outside the Showroom at the Eldorado Hotel Casino following a press conference. “I wanted to look good. I wanted to perform well. I pushed the envelope. I made a mistake. I admit it. I trusted resources I shouldn’t have.”

It’s been Gilbert’s contention all along that he never knowingly took steroids (he passed an independent polygraph examination) but once displayed a picture of himself standing behind a table with the 72 supplements he once used.

Now, after two comeback victories against limited opposition ” two-round stoppages over Dan Wallace in October and William Johnson in November ” Gilbert finds himself a victory over Brinkley away from personal ” and perhaps public ” redemption.

“I’ve trained so long ” so many hours,” Gilbert said. “I’ve boxed more rounds, I’ve run more miles … it’s been one hell of a tough ride. Champions make bold moves. This is my turn. People I care about ” I want to make the town proud.

“We (Brinkley and Gilbert) beat the (crap) out of each other physically and mentally. Who wants to lose? I’m not afraid of what he’s saying, I’m not afraid of getting into the ring. It’s the pride. I’m not looking forward to the day of the fight as much as I am the day after the fight. It’s been tough times for the community. In spite of the economy, the people have stayed behind me.”

Leading up to this bout with Brinkley, 32-5 (22), Gilbert had chosen for the most part to not trade barbs with his arch-rival, but when told by a reporter that he was beginning to look emotional, Gilbert acknowledged he was, his voice rising an octave and barely under control.

“Let’s be honest. Let’s be real,” he began. “He’s saying he’s going to knock me out. Look at his record. There are lesser men than me he hasn’t put down. He wants to talk about focus. I’m focused. I’ve been eating, drinking and breathing this fight for a year.

“Anything short of a two-by-four coming out of his shorts, it’s going to be a long night.”