Hinkey set for return to the ring | NevadaAppeal.com

Hinkey set for return to the ring

Special to the Nevada Appeal
Courtesy PhotoDerek Hinkey will return to the ring Saturday night against Ariel Espinal at the Reno Events Center.

RENO ” McDermitt middleweight Derek Hinkey and his brother, Tyler, recently picked up some unexpected but not unappreciated publicity after Ultimate Fighting Championship Interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir stopped Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

“Frank thanked us both when he was giving his interview on TV and in some MMA (mixed martial arts) magazines he thanked ‘his Native American brothers,'” Derek Hinkey, who is of Paiute-Shoshone extraction, said Wednesday. “We were his main sparring partners for that fight. His boxing was phenomenal. He almost adopted our style ” boxing and moving ” for that fight. He’s a stand-up guy.”

The 28-year-old Derek and the 25-year-old Tyler currently live and train in Las Vegas, where in addition to honing their craft of boxing, they spend time helping their MMA brethren sharpen up their striking skills.

Derek Hinkey, 6-1 with 6 knockouts, will be looking for a successful return after spending nearly six months out of the ring when he meets Ariel Espinal, 6-6-2 (2), of Brooklyn via the Dominican Republic, in a six-round middleweight contest at Reno Events Center on Saturday.

The bout will be one of six fights on the card, which is headlined by Yerington’s Jesse Brinkley, 32-5 (22), who will defend his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship (USNBC) super middleweight belt in a 12-round contest against Reno’s Joey Gilbert, 17-1 (13) with 1 no-contest.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7 p.m..

Hinkey’s bout against the 31-year-old Espinal will be his first since he scored a one-round knockout against Ben Aragon Aug. 29 in Fallon.

At 6-foot-1 and moving down from super middleweight, Hinkey said he had a hard time finding sparring partners who can prepare him for the 5-foot-6 Espinal, who lost four of his five fights (he had one draw) in 2008.

“Mostly I’ve been sparring light heavyweights my height,” Hinkey said. “But I think everyone will be happy the way I look. My strength, conditioning and eating habits are paying off. I’m growing as an athlete. I should be really strong. My speed’s phenomenal ” if anything, I’m a little quicker and have a little more pop (at middleweight).”

Espinal’s record is somewhat misleading in that he has gone the distance in facing unbeaten fighters in his last four fights, including Dennis Hasson (4-0), Farah Ennis (6-0), Angel Camacho (10-0) and Patrick Majewski (7-0).

Hinkey said in addition to staying on the outside and using his jab against Espinal, he hoped to put to use some new techniques he’s picked up for up-close combat from his MMA sparring partners.

“It (mixed martial arts) is a hobby,” Hinkey said. “I work with some top MMA coaches (in addition to his boxing coaches Kenny Rayford and Jacob Chavez). I’m a competitive athlete. I was a fan of (former UFC champ) Royce Gracie. He was a tiny little guy who beat a lot of big guys. You know Indians, we like to fight. My dad (Dave) and brother are bigger than me and (after watching Gracie) we started to grapple.

“I’ve learned to be physical inside. I have a couple tricks up my sleeve. (Espinal) is a durable guy. I’m not looking to knock him out.”

Hinkey said he hoped to be more busy in 2009 ” perhaps fighting up to six or seven times ” and still is looking to avenge his only loss, a knockout defeat at the hands of Tony Hirsch in February 2008.

“I owe that one to myself,” he said. “I was fighting a lot of demons and had never been put on my (butt) before. I grew as a man. He didn’t fight the real me. He fought a skinny, pale, sick kid. I was allowing him to hit me in the face. I’ve been keeping track of the guy. When we meet the next time, I hope he brings his best. I know I’ll be at my best.”

In the meantime, Hinkey said he would keep up his MMA hobby and tend to his main interest: “I’m living a dream. I’ve wanted to box ever since I was a child.”

In addition to Hinkey-Espinal and Brinkley-Gilbert, there will be four other bouts.

– In the co-main event Rafael Valenzuela, 11-1 (6), of Phoenix, will meet Yogli Herrera, 15-5-1 (10), of Barranquilla, Columbia, in an eight-round featherweight bout.

– Stan Martyniouk, 4-0 (1), of Antelope, Calif., will take on Scott Furney, 3-7-1 (1), of Waterford, Mich., in a four-round junior lightweight bout.

– Andrew Rempp, 0-1, of Yerington, and Johnny Mancilla, of Susanville, will meet in a four-round lightweight contest. Rempp, 22, is Brinkley’s cousin. It will be Mancilla’s pro debut.

– Gabriel Del Real, 2-0 (1), of Fairfield, Calif., and Joel Gonzalez, 2-2 (1), of Las Vegas, will clash in a four-round welterweight match.

NOTE: TKO Boxing Promotions, which along with Let’s Get It On Promotions is presenting the card, said that upward of 5,000 tickets have been sold. Reno Events Center has a seating capacity of 7,200.