- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2001

LAS VEGAS Washington's William Joppy won back a version of the World Boxing Association middleweight championship last night by capturing a majority decision over Howard Eastman at Mandalay Bay.
Using his superior hand speed, effective body shots and a powerful right uppercut to pile up points, Joppy held off a strong challenge from Eastman.
Judge Chuck Giampa of Nevada scored the fight even at 113-113. Judge Billy Graham of Nevada scored it 115-112 and judge Robert Watson of Michigan had it 114-112, both for Joppy, who survived a last-second 12th-round knockdown from a right cross to win the decision.
Joppy said he was surprised by Eastman's competitiveness.
"I hadn't seen that much of him before, and he was tougher than I thought," Joppy said. "His uppercut was his best shot. But I thought I was winning throughout the whole fight. I had trained hard for this fight."
Eastman said he thought he "had done enough to win. Joppy had heart, but he never hurt me."
The win for Joppy (33-2-1) may make him the WBA middleweight champion again in the eyes of that sanctioning body. But it will be a tough sell to the public, which will certainly recognize Bernard Hopkins as the undisputed middleweight champion the holder of all three major titles, the WBA, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Council championships.
Joppy's designation as WBA middleweight champion will only serve to confuse a boxing public already down on sanctioning bodies creating too many champions. Each time there is a championship fight, the organization sanctioning that title gets a substantial fee. The many champions and titles are viewed as opportunities for more sanctioning fees.
The WBA issued a bizarre order making Hopkins the "super" middleweight champion. Since he held all three titles, he was given that designation, which meant he would not have to face as many challenges to defend his WBA title. However, the sanctioning organization then declared the middleweight title vacant.
Before the fight. Joppy said he would consider himself the WBA middleweight champion if he won. "I feel like a champion," he said.
It's not clear what lies ahead for Joppy, since the other two major sanctioning organizations, the IBF and the WBC, have not made the same "super" designation. Joppy said he would like to fight Hopkins next, but Hopkins is looking for a major payday against Oscar De La Hoya or Roy Jones Jr.
Joppy believes he didn't get a fair chance when he lost his middleweight title to Trinidad after being knocked down three times before the fight was stopped in the fifth round in Madison Square Garden.
Trinidad went on to fight Hopkins, who had defeated WBC title holder and another Washington middleweight, Keith Holmes, in April.
Hopkins stopped Trinidad in 12 rounds in September with a brilliant boxing performance. Before the fight began, Hopkins' camp protested the way Trinidad's hands were wrapped and forced him to rewrap his right hand. That resulted in speculation that Trinidad has used an unfair advantage to win his fights by taping his hands in an illegal manner.
"I would love to fight Trinidad fair this time, like when he fought Bernard Hopkins and Hopkins caught him illegally wrapping his hands," Joppy said.
Before that fight, Joppy had never suffered such a loss in his career. Joppy, who started fighting at 21, won the WBA crown the first time by stopping title holder Shinji Takehara in nine rounds in June 1996. He successfully defended the championship with wins over Ray McElroy and Peter Venancio before losing a controversial decision to Julio Cesar Green in Madison Square Garden in August 1997, a fight that many ringside observers believed Joppy won.
He avenged that loss by defeating Green in a rematch in January 1998 to regain the WBA championship. He also came back from a car accident in January 1999 when he suffered a broken bone in his neck.
Joppy beat Green for a third time in September 1999, stopping him in seven rounds at MCI Center, and successfully defended his title three times in 2000 before losing to Trinidad.
For Eastman (32-1), the loss likely means a return to England and obscurity. This was the first loss of his career and also the first time he had fought outside of England.


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