Promoter unloads on Gilbert
Nevada Appeal Boxing Columnist
Promoter Gary Shaw said his relationship with Reno middleweight Joey Gilbert is over.
During an interview Friday, in which he was discussing his super flyweight prospect Nonito Donaire, Shaw let loose on Gilbert and his law partner and publicist Mark Schopper, also of Reno.
“I’m not representing Joey Gilbert anymore,” said Shaw, who promotes IBF super middleweight titlist Jeff Lacy and middleweight contender Winky Wright. “Joey kind of used me because he wanted some legitimacy.”
Shaw said he learned Thursday through matchmaker Chris Middendorf that Gilbert and Schopper had negotiated a Feb. 18 rematch with Jimmy Lange, whom Gilbert defeated Sept. 7, 2004, on the NBC reality series The Contender.
Shaw said even though he had only “a handshake agreement” with Gilbert, he felt betrayed by him and Schopper and that the pair had tried to sneak around behind his back.
“They didn’t even give me the courtesy of a call,” Shaw said. “I have never stopped anyone from making money. All I ask is that you call me to ask what I think. I would’ve told him to take the deal.”
Shaw said Gilbert isn’t the likable guy he appears to be.
“He’s deceitful,” Shaw said of Gilbert, 10-1 with 7 knockouts. “Everything the other Contenders said about him is true: he’s manipulative. I told him to give Jimmy Lange a message for me: ‘Tell him to kick your ass.'”
Shaw said Schopper called him back and “gave me a bunch of B.S., saying Joey didn’t know anything about (the fight), that he was at a seminar in California. But anyone who knows Joey, knows he’s on his e-mail 24/7. He’s not a gentleman. He doesn’t give you his undivided attention because he’s on his e-mail.
“I wouldn’t represent Gilbert if he became the heavyweight champion of the world. Schopper’s Joey’s bad boy. He cleans up his mess. They did this so they didn’t have to pay a promoter.”
Shaw, who had previously lauded Gilbert, calling him “a contender, not a pretender,” expressed a decidedly different opinion.
“He’s a legend in his own mind,” Shaw said. “He has a lot of (guts), but he’s not a talented fighter. Maybe he can fight in Reno, but he wouldn’t sell 20 tickets in Connecticut. No big-time promoter will sign him.
“Joey didn’t shoot himself in the foot, he shot himself in the heart. I have a commitment. I live by my word. People around me asked me, ‘What are you doing (signing Gilbert)? Why are you wasting your time?’ What he did was deceitful.”
Middendorf, the reputed matchmaker for the Gilbert-Lange fight, said he didn’t want to get in the middle of the affair, that whatever Shaw and Gilbert said was correct.
For his part Gilbert, who said he in fact returned from a seminar Friday, believes the whole thing is a big misunderstanding.
“I thought Gary wasn’t interested in a (Lange) rematch. He never returned my calls,” Gilbert said. “I was told by Gary to go ahead and look into my options.”
Gilbert said he was asked by Shaw to sign a three-year contract before recently pulling out of a fight Saturday in Uncasville, Conn., on the Wright-Sam Soliman undercard. Gilbert said he was still suffering from a hand injury incurred Nov. 5 in a win over James North at Caesars Tahoe.
“I thought I’d be doing (Shaw) a favor by fighting a rematch with Lange,” Gilbert said. “It would be a shot at some good publicity for Gary. Opinions may vary. More people think I’m a nice, honest straightforward young man, than a manipulator.”
When asked for his reaction, Schopper said it was all just good business.
“There was no manipulation,” Schopper said. “I didn’t intend to offend or malign Gary Shaw. We thought the fight would make Joey a much more valuable commodity for GSP (Gary Shaw Productions).”
Gilbert made $3,000 for his fight against North, a figure Schopper said was “just ridiculous.”
“I admit, maybe we should’ve sought (Shaw’s) council, but in light of our previous conversation, where he wanted to sign Joey to a long-term contract before taking him to England (on the March 5 undercard of Lacy-Joe Calzaghe), that handshake stuff doesn’t hold water,” Schopper said. “In regards to Gary’s ad hominem attacks, it goes to show maybe it’s a good thing we’re parting ways if that’s the kind of individual he is.”
Schopper said he had negotiated for Gilbert to fight Lange, 26-2-1, with 18 knockouts, Feb. 18 at the Patriot Center, in Fairfax, Va.
“I’m not a big-time player, but it took me only three or four days to get Joey 20 or 30 times more money than (the $3,000) Shaw got him in eight months,” Schopper said. “The nature of the sport sometimes proves people to be unprofessional. We’ve chosen not to take that route. We’ll take the high road.”
Schopper said some details still remain unresolved regarding the proposed fight with Lange, but should the fight come off and if Gilbert defeats Lange (who hails from Great Falls, Va.), a fight with Yerington’s Jesse Brinkley in Reno could happen next summer.
“I have nothing bad to say about Gary,” Gilbert said. “There was a miscommunication. The only thing he’s mad about is that we didn’t go through him so he could make his chunk. I told him last night, ‘If you have an issue with (the Lange fight), you should’ve given me a contract.’ It’s a blessing in disguise for us.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to have worked with him. It’s unfortunate he’s taking this kind of position instead of finding out the facts. And if I’m sitting across the table from him and I’m on my Blackberry, I’m e-mailing him because he doesn’t answer my phone calls.”