This Saturday from Little Rock, Arkansas, DiBella Entertainment, in association with Don King Productions and HBO’s Boxing After Dark, presents “Season’s Beatings,” featuring Jermain Taylor (21 0 16 KOs), the former United States 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, who puts his WBC Continental Americas middleweight title and unbeaten record on the line against former three-time middleweight champion William Joppy (34 3 1 25 KOs).
Taylor is the up-and-comer, the pug with the future, the man of the moment to beat. Joppy is the underdog, the ex-champ, the old pro on the comeback trail. Each man wants a shot at the undisputed middleweight crown, and as one goes up the rankings, the other goes down the rankings, at which point the fighters collide.
In the buildup to “Season’s Beatings,” Taylor and Joppy spoke with the press and they could not be more different. Jermain Taylor is the strong silent type. William Joppy is the strong talkative type. So Joppy, who is training in Atlantic City, had something to say.
“I live in New Jersey. I left Washington, DC three years ago. I had to get away from DC. It’s a cutthroat town,” Joppy said. “Now I’m in New Jersey where I get a lotta love. Philadelphia, New York, I get a lotta love.”
This is a do-or-die bout for William Joppy. If he wins, he’s in the mix. If he loses, he’s history.
“This is a big fight for myself,” said Joppy. “This is a big fight for Jermain Taylor. This is a crossroad in Jermain Taylor’s career, to see if he can deal with the big boys. I’m at a situation where I need to get back where I wanna be, where I was at before. For me to get back on that path, I have to defeat Jermain Taylor. For him to get on that path, he has to defeat me.”
Joppy’s life messed with his boxing and hurt his career.
“I was going though a lot of personal problems,” admitted Joppy. “I said before I get back in that squared circle, I’m getting everything outside the ring out of my life. That’s why I took this year. I could have fought. I took this year off because I had to get my mind right. And I did that. Now it’s time to get back on top. And I’m gonna start with Jermain Taylor, in his hometown, and it’s going to be an explosion.”
Jermain Taylor finally spoke: “I wanted to say to William Joppy, if he plans on building his career up on me, he picked the wrong fight to do it, because I’m in tiptop shape. This is the hardest fight I ever trained for in my life, and I’m just waiting to go in there and take care of business, just like I always do. As the man said, he’s been going through a lot of things in life. Everybody has to go through something in life. He said he got everything ready now and he’s bringing his A game. And I’m definitely bringing mine. So I feel like I have to win this fight and I have to shine.”
Taylor was asked about middleweight king Bernard Hopkins and if he’d like to fight the champ the next time out.
“I’m gonna be patient. What happens happens,” Taylor replied. “But Bernard is world champion. I wouldn’t be a fighter if I didn’t want to fight him.”
Joppy has not fought since Hopkins beat him. “I could have fought earlier this year,” Joppy said, “but I had to get a lot of personal issues out of the way. It’s been a long time since I’ve been inside that ring with a clear mind. When I fight Jermain Taylor December 4, I will be the last man standing. I’m not going twelve rounds. It’s not going twelve rounds.”
Taylor listened patiently and said “It don’t make a difference what this guy says. Expect me to lead off everything with the jab. I believe a jab sets up the whole fight. It can make a fight easy. Expect an exciting fight. I don’t care whether it’s twelve rounds. I’m gonna fight the whole twelve rounds. Expect me to always be in shape. I’m just an all-around good fighter. I do what it takes to win.”
Joppy returned to the subject of Bernard Hopkins: “Of all my thirty-eight professional fights, Bernard Hopkins is the lightest punching guy I ever fought. Now I know that you all look at Bernard Hopkins as a great fighter. He stopped Tito Trinidad. He stopped Oscar De La Hoya. Bernard’s a good fighter. He caught me at a good time. I have to take my hat off to Bernard Hopkins. But I still think I can beat Bernard Hopkins.”
Not many people think Joppy has what it takes to beat Hopkins, but if he can get by Taylor, a rematch with The Executioner is a possibility.
“I’d love it,” Joppy said. “Bernard beat me fair and square. I’m not making up no excuses. I wasn’t on that night. He was the better man. I could have just boxed the hell out of Bernard and beat him, but I wasn’t right that night. He got off, he beat me, outmaneuvered me, and he moved onto bigger and better things. He won that battle. The war’s not over. He won that battle.”
The fight with Hopkins was so one-sided that Joppy called it quits.
“I was talking about retirement before the Bernard Hopkins fight. It was out of frustration, inactivity, and I tired of sitting on the shelf. The last three years of my career has been in the dormant stage. Things haven’t been going my way. That’s life. People go through that in life,” Joppy said. “You’ve got your springtime. You’ve got your summertime. And you also got your fall time. It’s gonna get cold. There ain’t that much food. That’s how life is. That’s what I’ve been going through.”
Hopkins may have punched the fight right out of Joppy. There may be nothing left for Jermain Taylor.
“They said the same thing about Evander Holyfield when he fought Mike Tyson. They said the same thing about Marlon Starling when he fought Mark Breland. I can’t worry about what people think,” Joppy said. “It’s about me being physically right. My mind is right. I’m in shape right now. It’s a mental game now.”
Say what you will about William Joppy. The man has confidence.
“I also have experience. I have been watching Jermain Taylor’s tapes and I give him respect. He’s a good fighter, good jab, strong, lotta energy, a little young guy coming up. I’m not coming into this fight empty-handed. I’m coming into this fight like a loaded gun,” Joppy said. “I’m not going to let him hit me, but if you box you’re gonna get hit. Just like if you swim you’re gonna get wet.”