Gilbert knocks off rust, knocks out Wallace
BY MIKE HOUSER
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer
Reno super middleweight Joey Gilbert may have been out of the spotlight for the last 13 months, but if the crowd at Martin’s Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, Md., was any indication, he has not been forgotten and, in fact, may still be as popular as ever.
The 32-year-old Gilbert withstood an early attack by “Flawless” Dan Wallace to rally for a technical knockout at 1 minute, 59 seconds of the second round of their scheduled six-round bout on Thursday.
Gilbert, a three-time national champion for the University of Nevada club boxing team, improved to 16-1 with 12 knockouts and 1 no-contest. It was his first fight since he stopped Charles Howe in one round on Sept. 21, 2007, after which he served a yearlong suspension for testing positive for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol.
The bout with Howe, of Grelton, Ohio, was later changed to a no-contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
None of that seemed to matter to Thursday’s crowd, which apparently still remembered Gilbert from his days on the NBC reality boxing show “The Contender.”
“Some Baltimore Ravens were there and in the second round the crowd was cheering for him,” said Gilbert’s promoter, Houston’s Chet Koerner, the founder of TKO Boxing Promotions, based in Las Vegas. “He was still well known.”
Wallace, of Adrian Mich., may have known who Gilbert was, but not what he was in for after getting under his opponent’s skin following Wednesday’s weigh-in.
“He asked me if I was a 154-pounder and said I looked small,” said Gilbert, who weighed in at 167 1/2 pounds to Wallace’s 165 1/2. “He was (expletive) cocky. He was saying stuff like, ‘When you come to fight me, it’s like you’re coming for my life. My defense is sick.'”
In this case, it was Gilbert’s defense that was the difference as he covered up against the wild attack of a rushing Wallace, who fell to 9-7 (3).
As is his custom, Gilbert walked toward one of the other corners at the sound of the bell.
“It was crazy, he came right out there and met me in the corner,” Gilbert said. “He ran at me throwing bombs. In the first 90 seconds, I felt like a duck out of water. I didn’t feel like my sights were locked in. After 90 seconds I started locking in.”
“In the first round I could tell Joey had a little bit of ring rust,” Koerner said. “In the second round, it was very clear to me that Joey has improved in his 13 months off. He threw combinations that haven’t been there before.”
Gilbert began to go downstairs on Wallace, working his body. He said it had already paid dividends by the start of the second round.
“I could tell he was getting tired,” Gilbert said of Wallace, who came right after him again. “I hit him left hook, right hook, left hook, right hook (to the body). It looked like a bullet had gone through him. He froze up. I got him in (a neutral corner) and didn’t stop punching.”
That left it up to referee Kenny Chevalier, who jumped in to stop the fight, which in turn has helped jump-start Gilbert’s career.
“It feels so great, man,” Gilbert said of his return bout. “That felt good, to shake that (suspension) off. I couldn’t believe I had so many fans in Baltimore. I had security coming up to me saying that they were at the Patriot Center (in Fairfax, Va.) and saw me knock out Jimmy Lange (in February 2006).”
The bout with Wallace was Gilbert’s first step in preparing for his meeting with Yerington’s Jesse Brinkley Jan. 30 in Reno.
For his part, Brinkley, who is training in Providence, R.I., said he is unimpressed by anything Gilbert does.
“He can fight as much as he wants between now and January 30th, the truth is he can’t and he won’t beat me,” said Brinkley, 31-5 (21), in a press release. “He couldn’t do it three years ago and he won’t do it now.”
Gilbert said he was going to take a week off and spend it with his family and his girlfriend, Molly Mentaberry, before resuming training for his next bout.
“I’m going to stay in shape like I always do,” Gilbert said. “It’s easier to stay in shape than to get in shape.”
Koerner said he spoke with Gilbert’s trainer, Richie Ortiz, and came up with a game plan.
“Joey wants to fight again (in November),” Koerner said. “We’re going to step up the competition and keep him busy. He’ll take the next step up with another fight. He’ll get some more rounds. We’d like to get him to 20-1 before he fights Brinkley. It would make that fight big.”
And it will be a fight where both boxers will be in the spotlight.