Brinkley returns to Reno |

Brinkley returns to Reno

Mike Houser

It’s been nearly four years since Yerington boxer Jesse Brinkley last fought in Reno and in that span he has undergone several changes.

Brinkley, now 30, has further refined his transformation from brawler to slick boxer, beefed up from middleweight to super middleweight, gained greater fame on the NBC reality show “The Contender,” and just missed cracking the WBC’s Top 15 rankings in the super middleweight division when he got caught with a late body shot by Joey Spina on May 10, 2006.

Brinkley, 27-5 with 18 knockouts, will make his return to Reno on July 6 when he meets Dallas Vargas, 21-3 (15), of Toledo, Ohio, in the 10-round main event of “Heavy Hands,” to be held outdoors at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino.

The show will be the first promotional venture of Let’s Get It On Promotions under the direction of Terry and Tommy Lane, sons of former Reno promoter, referee, judge and district attorney Mills Lane, who originally founded the company before suffering a stroke in 2002.

But with the acquisition of trainer Peter Manfredo Sr. – who replaces Miguel Diaz in the corner – Northern Nevada boxing fans may see a bit more of the slugger Jesse Brinkley, who stopped rugged Joe Garcia in two rounds on July 11, 2003, in his last appearance in Reno, rather than the stylist who fought Spina on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights and former WBO super middleweight titlist Robin Reid, Anthony Bonsante (twice), Alfonzo Gomez, Sergio Mora and Jonathan Reid on “The Contender.” “We’re trying to make him throw more punches,” Manfredo said of Brinkley, who is coming off a victory over Luis Lopez, a six-round stoppage June 14 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. “He’s so strong, with the accumulation of punches he can score more knockouts. It paid off last time (against Lopez).

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“(In previous fights) he was trying to be a boxer and take his time. That’s not his forte. He’s a banger. He’s a strong kid. When he pressures the other guy and accumulates his punches, Brinkley is a lot more explosive than he is as a boxer.”

Brinkley said he and Manfredo – father of “The Contender’s” Peter Manfredo Jr. – are working well together.

“We know what we’re supposed to do – train hard and win,” Brinkley said Thursday from his camp in Providence, R.I., where he has lived with Manfredo Sr. for the last nine weeks. “You do what someone asks of you. When it comes to adrenaline in the fight, do (we) work well together? We seem to.

“Against Anthony (a close win) and Robin Reid (a loss in a physical fight), maybe it was my fault for not throwing punches. (Lopez) made it easy. I had to let my hands go.”

Lopez pressured Brinkley throughout their fight, soaking up punishment before being knocked down by a left hook in the sixth. Brinkley followed up quickly and dropped Lopez onto his face with a combination to end the bout.

“He looked a lot better than he did against Robin Reid,” Manfredo Sr. said. “The simple fact that he threw combination after combination after combination – it was exactly like it was in the gym before the fight.

“He threw a left to the body and a left to the head – four-and-five punch combinations caught (Lopez) in the body and head and (Brinkley) finished the job.”

In the 30-year-old Vargas, the 5-foot-10 Brinkley will meet a fighter with a long amateur career and who presents somewhat of an X-factor.

“To be honest, I don’t know the first thing about Dallas Vargas,” Brinkley said. “I know he’s right-handed and 6-foot and has a little bit of power. I’m sure he’s studied me. He knows to hit me with a left hook to the body.”

Although Brinkley may know little about Vargas, Manfredo said he has a good idea what lies ahead for his fighter.

“I know he (Vargas) is right there in front of you,” Manfredo said. “He won’t be hard to find. He’s maybe 6-1, 6-2. We’ll start the attack and pressure him. I don’t think he has a great chin. I know a lot of people in the amateurs and they say if you hit him, he’ll go.”

One other thing Brinkley said has gone is the middleweight division. The contract weight for this fight is 172 pounds, technically at light heavyweight.

“‘Sixty is a thing of the past,” Brinkley said. “I thought I’d be able to make it, but (against Lopez) I came in right at 168. I didn’t eat or drink anything for a day and had to run for 15 minutes on the treadmill.”

Brinkley said he’s got his immediate future planned out, but that Vargas is first and foremost on his mind.

“I have to get through this fight,” Brinkley said. “It’s a make-or-break fight here or I don’t have a leg to stand on. I need to get past this guy. I need to knock this guy out.”

The three weeks between bouts will be the busiest Brinkley has been since 1998, when he fought Mark Urioste and Concepcion Gutierrez one week apart. He stopped Urioste in one round before getting caught by a wild Gutierrez overhand right in the second round for his first loss.

For his part, Vargas is coming off a one-round TKO at the hands of France’s Jean Paul Mendy on July 28, 2006. Mendy is ranked No. 9 at super middleweight by the WBA and WBO.

“I obligated myself to (former Reno trainer and current Idaho promoter) Moe Smith and then the Lanes asked me to appear on their card,” Brinkley said of his high activity. “They asked me if I could be in Reno and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Quentin Blue Horse (the Lanes’ media marketing coordinator and Brinkley’s childhood friend) asked me to fight in Reno, so I was obligated to fight instead of taking off three months. I’m putting my overtime in. I’m glad to stay busy.

“The Lanes might have a card on October 13 or October 20 in Reno. That works perfect for me.”

Brinkley said if he can get by Vargas he hopes to face Spina in a rematch (“It’s just something I want for self-pride,” Brinkley said) on the Lanes’ October show. A win there could lead to “another big fight for Reno” and then possibly one against “a big-name fighter.”

“I have to get this guy (Vargas) before calling out anybody or redeeming myself (against Spina),” Brinkley said. “I’m going to bite down on my mouthpiece and, if I have to, fall on my face that night. I’ll have a heart attack if I have to. I’m going to bang it out and make sure things don’t go to a decision.”

That’s the kind of talk that Northern Nevada boxing fans like to hear and, if Brinkley can bring the action like he used to, the kind of fight they’d like to see.

Reserved tickets are $200, $150, $100 and $50, and bleacher seats are available for $25. Call (800) 879-8879 for more information.

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