Gilbert returns to the ring |

Gilbert returns to the ring

Mike Houser
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

When he faced “Flawless” Dan Wallace on October 30, it took Reno super middleweight Joey Gilbert all of 4 minutes, 59 seconds to shake off the rust he accumulated during a 13-month absence from the ring.

Only 21 days removed from his second-round technical knockout of Wallace, the 32-year-old Gilbert is looking to continue sharpening up for his January 30 bout with Yerington’s Jesse Brinkley in Reno.

Gilbert, 16-1 with 12 knockouts and 1 no-contest, will meet 28-year-old journeyman William Johnson, 9-17-1 (3), in what amounts to a six-round light heavyweight bout tonight at Michael’s Eighth Avenue, in Glen Burnie, Md.

Gilbert scaled 169 1/2 pounds during Wednesday’s weigh-in, while Johnson, of Sardis, Miss., came in at 176 pounds in what was to be a 170-pound bout.

“(Johnson) looks at the scales like the scales are wrong. The scales aren’t wrong ” you’re six pounds over,” Gilbert said with a chuckle. “I said, ‘Whatever, man. Let’s fight.’ I didn’t fly 3,000 miles to worry about six pounds. I walked out and said, ‘I’m going to eat and going to my room.'”

Though he had a right to, Gilbert didn’t make Johnson try and sweat some weight off.

“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “I feel so good to get right back in the ring again. It reminds me of Nevada, when I fought every other weekend. I stay calm. I’m so ready.”

Gilbert, a three-time national champion when he competed for the University of Nevada club boxing team, said the work he put in several months ago will result in the condition with which he steps in the ring tonight, rather than the two-and-a-half weeks of training he had leading up to the bout.

“This is the fun part,” Gilbert said. “If you train right, the fight is easy. All the chopping wood, plyometrics and going 12-15 rounds on the mitts five, six days in a row (pays off). I’m not burning out. The fight for me is a release. It’s time to get in there and shine.”

And against a fighter with Johnson’s record, that’s what one would expect Gilbert to do. But Johnson has been in against some top-notch opponents, including contenders like Andre Dirrell (a 2004 Olympic silver medal winner for the United States), Epifanio Mendoza, Robert Allen and undefeated middleweight John Duddy. And though he lost to all of them ” as well as WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto ” Johnson handed then- 16-0 Daryl Salmon his first loss in June 2007.

“The bottom line is, I’m not even worried about him,” Gilbert said of Johnson, who is coming off a four-round unanimous decision loss to Gevante Davis on August16. “Like Rocky Marciano said, ‘Don’t worry about the other guy. Worry about you.'”

Like Marciano, Gilbert has always stayed in shape between bouts, allowing him to concentrate on strategy and technique rather than his waistline during training.

“(Fighting often) is getting me sharp, making me more comfortable,” Gilbert said. “I’ve been out of the ring a while (he served a year-long suspension after testing positive for one metabolite of the steroid Stanazolol following his Sept. 21, 2007 bout with Charles Howe, of Grelton, Ohio), so it’s good that I can get in there and move. It’s like the military. It’s like a drill. It’s like preparing for going into a big battle.”

Gilbert said he has a custom of making the weight for a bout a week out and prepares himself mentally and physically for the night of the fight ” all the way down to his ring walk and music.

He said the Wallace contest and this one with Johnson are all part of his preparation for Brinkley and beyond.

“Brinkley, John Duddy ” whoever ” I’m getting myself ready for real competition,” he said. “I know what I’ve been doing (training). I’m not worried about what the other guy brings. I’m done looking at records. Like Sugar Ray Leonard told me three years ago, these guys have never faced Joey Gilbert.

“If it’s a tougher fight, that’s fine; I need a little work. It’s time to box and sharpen my skills. If someone comes after me and tries to knock me out, that triggers a whole different turn of events in me. I’m on auto-pilot.”

Gilbert said he took two days off after his victory over Wallace and may squeeze in another bout in December before facing arch-rival Brinkley.

“What I do in June, July, August and September will help me (January 30) ” it gave me a foundation to build on,” Gilbert said. “If anything, I’ll taper down (training) in January. I’ve already built the base.”

Gilbert has a problem that most people only wish they had: He said he’s having trouble keeping weight on as he prepares for a 166-pound bout with Brinkley. But even that “problem” has a silver lining.

“If anything, I don’t have to dry out,” Gilbert said. “I don’t have to miss meals. This will be another opportunity for me to strap it on, get in the ring at full speed and hone my skill. I’m going to work on my timing and create some space, some distance.”

Gilbert said unlike Wallace, Johnson is a quiet guy.

“Those are the guys you have to watch out for,” he said.

Gilbert said even Johnson coming in heavy will ultimately work to his own advantage.

“Jesse Brinkley will enter the ring at 180 pounds (after hyrdrating) ” let’s be honest with each other,” Gilbert said. “I’ve got a plan. Everything’s for a reason. I need to feel those pounds right now. There’s a method to my madness.”

Gilbert-Johnson will not be televised. The co-main event on an eight-bout card presented by Ballroom Boxing and TKO Promotions, the bout should start about 6:30 p.m.