Joppy gets up, holds off Eastman

He reclaims `title', dealing Brit 1st loss

McCall wins


November 18, 2001|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS - When last seen, Washington-area middleweight William Joppy was getting off the canvas after having lost his World Boxing Association title via fifth-round knockout against Felix Trinidad.

Last night, the Seabrook resident outboxed and out-hustled hard-punching Englishman Howard Eastman to win a majority decision. Joppy survived a 12th-round knockdown from consecutive right hands to the jaw by Eastman (32-1, 29 knockouts) to regain that crown under a strange set of circumstances.

"He shocked me a couple of times early on, and that last shot really shook me up. It was a tough fight. I didn't know too much about him, but I knew it was going to be a tough fight," said Joppy, who, at 31, is a year older than Eastman. "He hurt me a couple of times with his uppercut. I trained very hard for this. I think I was ahead for most of the fight. He hurt me in the last round, but I trained hard so I persevered."

Their bout took place on the undercard of the rematch between World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation champion Hasim Rahman of Baltimore and Lennox Lewis of England.

Since his loss to Trinidad in May, Joppy (33-2-1, 24 KOs) returned to longtime trainer Adrian Davis. He trained for the past month and a half alongside Rahman at 7,000 feet in Big Bear City, Calif. That training included six days of sparring with standout welterweight Shane Mosley.

In a strange move that may have been made to simply garner more sanctioning fees from the participants, the WBA declared undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins a "superchampion," and allowed Joppy and Eastman to fight for the "vacant" WBA crown last night.

Trinidad beat Joppy to advance in the middleweight championship unification series, won by Hopkins with a 12th-round knockout of Trinidad in September.

Hopkins now owns the WBA, WBC and IBF crowns. It is unclear how there can be two champions under one umbrella, but Hopkins must only defend his WBA crown every 18 months, while Joppy has to defend every 90 days.

"Bernard said he would give me a shot, but we'll have to wait and see until after his mandatory [defense]," said Joppy, who out-landed Eastman, 302-281. "I'm glad I have the middleweight belt back. I was a champion for six years, and it's back where it should be."

Earlier, Oliver McCall, who five years ago in a WBA title rematch with Lewis left the ring in tears after an apparent nervous breakdown, used a single blow to thrust himself back into the heavyweight picture.

Trailing by seven points on one card, and five on two others, McCall (39-7) scored his 29th knockout with a smashing right hand to stop London's Henry Akinwande at 2:13 of the 10th and final scheduled round.

Akinwande (40-2-1, 26 KOs) was coming off a first-round knockout of Maurice Harris in June and never had been down or out in a fight. His only previous loss came against Lewis when he was disqualified in five rounds for excessive holding, but he lay motionless as referee Kenny Bayless stood over him and counted to 10.

"I trained five weeks for this fight and I was ready," said McCall, 36, who was licensed only this week by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "I'm just happy to be back."

His travel restricted by his probation for a drug conviction, McCall was permitted to leave his hometown of Martinsville, W. Va., for three days to take the fight. He arrived Thursday night, and said he still felt "jet-lagged" in the ring.

"When he went down, I knew he wasn't getting up," McCall said of Akinwande. "Now I'm going to go back, continue my drug counseling. It's good to be clean and sober."

Earlier, Christy Martin (44-2-2, 31 KOs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Lisa Holywine (14-8-1, six KOs) in the lone women's bout on the card.

In the night's first bout, Venezuela's Yober Ortega (32-3-1) scored his 22nd knockout 36 seconds into the fourth round, earning the vacant WBA title against fellow Venezuelan Jose "Cheo" Rojas (16-5, 10 KOs).

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