Boxing


Sharkie's Machine: "William Joppy's Contribution To Jermain Taylor"

By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Once upon a time, William Joppy was a very good fighter. He was undefeated until he lost his WBA Middleweight Title (by UD12) to Julio Cesar Green at Madison Square Garden in August of 1997. The first thing Joppy did in 1998 was rematch with Green and win his Title back. He won a convincing 12 round unanimous decision. In 1999, he fought a rubber match against Green and won (TKO 7). William Joppy reminded me of Shane Mosley (back when Shane was dangerous at 130-pounds), who had a similar style body attack. Joppy, like Shane, seemed to fight sideways and had quick hands and sharp reflexes. He was a Champion. He was a force.

Saturday night in Little Rock Arkansas, William Joppy was on the menu like a tuna salad sandwich for the up and coming Middleweight, Jermain Taylor. A lot of fight fans have been patiently waiting for Taylor to step up his competition and face at least some of the top fighters in the division if not Bernard Hopkins, the King of the Middleweights. The wait continues.

In 2001, Don King set up a Middleweight tournament that saw former Welterweight Champion, Felix Trinidad in the mix and matched against William Joppy. I thought that the quick handed, sharply muscular and natural Middleweight Joppy might be too much for the skinnier Trinidad (who had moved up from 147 to 160) but it was Tito that proved too much for Joppy.

I suspected that Joppy was "ruined" by Trinidad, (who won by TKO 5) where he was downed three times in what still looks like the worst beating he ever took, worse then the one Bernard Hopkins put on him last year. Joppy has declined considerably since tangling with Felix Trinidad, as have a few other highly regarded fighters.

Six months after the Trinidad loss, Joppy fought Howard Eastman and won a Majority Decision in a close fight. Joppy may have still had a future after all.

After Eastman, it was on to the Hopkins fight, which reinforced the notion that Joppy's career was about over. To watch the chiseled William Joppy take such a beating from the lanky Hopkins must have been the inspiration of Jermain Taylor's camp to arrange a fight with Joppy instead of Howard Eastman, who's credibility isn't as questionable.

I like Jermain Taylor. He's a hard working fighter with good skills, a respectful and likable kid with a promising future. I don't blame him for the choices of opponents his management team makes. But for all the positive press Taylor gets, I think it's high time he start showing he's worth the high ranking he enjoys and the constant praises from the Boxing media.

Taylor is ranked above many Middleweights he has not beaten, guys like Howard Eastman, Robert Allen, Antwon Echols, Daniel Edouard, Kingsley Ikeke and even Ray Joval. We might read that list and say, "Taylor would beat any of them!" And you might be right, but Boxing is a sport. And in this sport, you are not better than anyone until you prove it in the ring.

Who actually understands the method that determines the official rankings anyway? It's not based on winning fights on the ladder of contention because I see guys like Omar Sheika lose fight after fight and still get consecutive shots at Titles. Apparently, it has to do with how popular you can become under the power of your promoter. Imagine if other sports did this? The Chicago Bears might be granted a playoff berth with a record of 4-12.

It always annoys me when guys arrive before they get there. Taylor has shown a lot of maturity and quality in the ring with the limited opposition his team has produced so far. How long will it be before he steps up for real? Why not go after Hopkins NOW? How long does Taylor's camp think the 39-year-old Hopkins will keep fighting? Perhaps they're waiting for him
to retire.

If you're a great fighter, then fight great fights. If you're just ordinary fighter who looks great against weak opponents and want to make a mint pretending to be great, then Taylor can do that too.

William Joppy showed some skills early in the fight, I thought he almost won the first round but Taylor was always bringing the fight to him. Though Taylor won every round, he was incapable of finishing Joppy off whenever he scored more then one shot. Either Joppy has a hell of a chin or Taylor is not a very big puncher.

When Joppy was inclined, he was able to hit Taylor. He didn't try enough and after the midway point of the fight—Joppy went into survival mode and to Taylor's embarrassment, survived. Taylor could not hurt Joppy. He landed many clean shots flush onto Joppy's face and body but nothing ever hurt Joppy. I kept wondering if Joppy were truly motivated, how this fight
might have gone down. If this were the Joppy of five years ago, he might have beaten Taylor.

Taylor has that Michael Jordan look and he gets the same type treatment in the ring. After Joppy lifted Taylor in the ninth round and the ref stepped in to break them, Taylor threw a barrage of punches while the ref was holding Joppy. Both were warned but both should have had a point taken for their fouls, especially Taylor. But when you're a superstar, you get superstar treatment. I'm just curious about how Taylor became a superstar. Did I miss his big fight? No, he still hasn't had it.

William Joppy is no longer a credible fighter. He threw his respect for the sport to the wind as he mocked Taylor and made it clear why he was there—to lose.

Maybe after Trinidad and Hopkins, Joppy lost his confidence like Austin Powers lost his "mojo" and though he showed some ability in the ring against Taylor, after the seventh round, it was clear that Joppy was not there to win, he was just there to improve Taylor's resume and get paid.

Is THIS the kind of fight Taylor's people want him to be in? Like when he TKO'd Alex Rios in one round? Rios had that same attitude. He was there to lose. This type opponent does nothing to enhance the mystique of a promising fighter. All it does is make fans wonder why he is not fighting tougher fighters. There is a reason. There always is.

If Taylor is as good as he's hyped up to be, he should have beaten Joppy in at least impressive fashion. And yes, I mean by knockout. It seems that while Taylor possesses impressive looking skills, he lacks power and accuracy. Even soft punching fighters can knock a guy out with precision punches to a particular spot.

With Joppy's contribution, Taylor has improved his fluffy record to 22-0. If Taylor's handlers had more confidence in him, he'd be fighting the best guys in the division. Taylor hasn't beaten anyone worthy of mention and yet, the Boxing media has made him a big name. Because his name is big, he sells tickets—and that's all that ever really matters, isn't it?

* * *

Agree or disagree? Comments can be sent to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 06.12.2004



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