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William Joppy-Destined to be Number Two

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  • William Joppy-Destined to be Number Two

    I figured, this guy never got his full due, so I thought he was worth writing about. William Joppy was a talented middleweight who had all the tools one can ask for: he could hit hard, was fast on his feet, he had the technique and the necessary IQ and was tough and physically strong, with a decent chin. His great misfortune is being in the division at the same time as Bernard Hopkins, and thus he always had to settle for being number two. He still won the WBA title 3 times and beat fighters like Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Green, Howard Eastman and Shinji Takehara. This is the story of William Joppy, a fine number 2 for a long time.

    William Torelle Joppy was born 11 September 1970 in Washington DC. He tried to qualify for the 1992 Olympics, but was beaten in the trials on points by Chris Byrd. His amateur record is 48-4. He stands 5'9 and thus was never a tall middleweight, especially compared to the likes of Hopkins, but he has a pretty big reach for his height, 72 inches. He made up for his lack of height with his muscular frame and punching power, as well as good movement and boxing skills, of course. Joppy became a pro on 26 February 1993, winning by UD6 against Dwayne Tennet. He then won his next 12 fights by ko, mostly within the first 3 rounds. On 16 September '95, he fought Rodney Toney for the NABF title, but the fight ended in a draw. He nevertheless got a chance to win the WBA title soon thereafter, as he was chosen to be the first defense of the newly-crowned champion Shinji Takehara, who had convincingly beaten Jorge Fernando Castro for it. Naturally, the fight was in Japan, at the Yokohama Arena, 24 June '96. Joppy dominated the taller champion and was soundly ahead on the scorecards when he stopped him in the 9th round by TKO. It was the first loss of Takehara's pro career and would be the last, as he retired right after that fight. Joppy first stopped the fringe-contender Ray McElroy in his first defense, by TKO7, before beating the Brazilian Peter Venancio by UD in the second. On 23 August '97, he experienced an upset loss against the Dominican contender Julio Cesar Green, fighting at MSG. Joppy was down once in the second round and came back to drop Green twice in the third, but in the end, Green won by close unanimous scores of 116-113, 114-112 and 113-112. It was his first loss in 25 fights.

    Joppy came back and fought Green again on 31 January next year, at the Ice Palace in Tampa, FL. This time, he won by a clear UD after 12 rounds, having learned his lesson well. He then signed to fight the 47-yearold Roberto Duran in his first defense. Duran was one of the few fighters Joppy faced that were shorter than him, standing 5'7. He was simply no match for the 28-yearold Joppy and Joppy stopped him by TKO3 after punishing him against the ropes. It was 28 August at Las Vegas Hilton and after the fight Joppy said:"That was kind of a sad victory for me. Roberto Duran is a great legend. I've watched him fight since I was a kid. But it's my time now. He's had his years, now I want to have mine." He then signed to fight Julio Cesar Green for the third time and after dominating the fight, the fight was stopped in round 7 because of a bad cut over Green's left eye. Joppy thus won by TKO7. This would prove to be Joppy's longest reign and he went on to make 5 successful defenses, also stopping Rito Ruvalcaba by TKO1, beating Hacine Cherifi by UD and finally stopping Jonathan Reid by TKO4. His downfall the second time came against the man who had been one of two best welterweights in the 90's: Felix Trinidad. It was on 12 May 2001 at Madison Square Garden that Joppy experienced his worst defeat. Trinidad took him apart with his power punching and put him down in rounds 1 and 4 before knocking him out with a devastating right cross in round 5. Joppy was boxing well in rounds 2 and 3 and 4 before the knockdown and Trinidad's impressive victory has question marks around it, given what transpired before his next fight against Hopkins (his hands were illegally wrapped). It was pretty strange that a tough and strong guy and a natural middle like Joppy could just be blown away like that by a guy who spent most of his career at 147. Whatever the truth, Joppy was back to square one.

    He got to fight for the same title in his very next fight, after the WBA introduced their "super champion" belt, which they gave to Hopkins after beating Trinidad. Joppy faced the hard-hitting Howard Eastman of England for the "regular" belt, 17 November 2001. It was a tough fight for him, despite being better in the fist half, as Eastman came back strong in the second half and hurt him a few times, and then dropped him just before the final bell. Still, Joppy won in the end by the scores 115-112, 114-112 and 113-113. Eastman was 32-0 and a feared contender, so this was one of his best victories definitely. He didn't fight for almost a year when he defended against Naotaka Hozumi, going back to Japan for the first time since winning the belt for the first time, 10 October 2002. He stopped the overmatched Hozumi by TKO10 after dominating the fight. It was then finally time to face the king of the division, Bernard Hopkins of course. Unfortunately, Joppy was again inactive too long, this time for 13 months, when he faced Hopkins, 13 December 2003 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Before the fight, Hopkins bet Joppy 50 K that he would knock him out, but he failed to do so, as the tough guy from DC lasted the distance, despite getting a beating and losing by a landslide, 118-109, 119-108 and 119-109. He was pretty much a spent force after this fight and his prime was over. He came back on 4 December next year to fight the new hope, Jermain Taylor. The fight was in Taylor's hometown Little Rock, Arkansas and Joppy was down in the fifth and lost by a shutout on the scorecards. He then first jumped up to 168 and also had a few fights at 175, scoring 5 knockouts before fighting Lucian Bute for his IBF super middle title, 29 February 2008 in Montreal. He was dominated by the much taller Bute and stopped by TKO10, despite promising to school Bute before the fight. On 8 January 2011, he fought his last world title fight against the WBA light heavy champion Beibut Shumenov and was knocked out in 6. After winning one more fight on 12 March, by UD10 against Cory Cummings, he finally retired. He was 40 and had been fighting professionally for 18 years and his record is 40 wins with 30 ko's, 7 losses and 2 draws.

    He recently celebrated his 50th birthday. He looks pretty well on this pic, considering his long career and the punishment that he took in some fights. Have a good one, champ.

  • #2
    --- Boz, never heard Titos wraps were illegal. What happened was Brother Nazim demanded a rewrap after the fact. Boxing being such a murky, nontransparent sport deliberately covers up behind the scene shenanigans. Not saying they couldn't be illegal, but rather Tito like Margarito only ever fought in commish and opposite corner approved gloves. As did Luis Resto vs Billy Collins where more obviously Billy's pop and the NY commish failed in their duties by the end result.


    • #3
      He was a good fighter. Unfortunately the things I remember him for are the disgraceful Duran match, the loaded gloves theory and getting a bit of a gift against Eastman, none of which are his fault. Let's hoping he's as healthy as he looks.