Monday, April 23, 2018  |


Best I Faced: William Joppy

Photo by THE RING Archive

William Joppy was able to endure a tumultuous start to life that included taking drugs and stints in prison before becoming a two-time middleweight titleholder in the 1990s.

Joppy, was born in Silver Spring, Maryland on September 11, 1970. He was the middle child of three.

His first recollection of boxing came in 1976 when, along with his father, he watched the Montreal Olympics which spawned the careers of Leon and Michael Spinks, Sugar Ray Leonard and Howard Davis.

“From that point on boxing has been on my radar,” Joppy told “I always wanted to do boxing, but when I was a child coming up I played a lot of team sports. I knew boxing took 110 percent and I didn’t think I was mature enough. I was into a lot of stuff.”

Joppy’s parents separated later in the late-70s and the teenager’s life took a turn for the worse.

“I come from a broken home,” said Joppy, who spent over a year in prison for serious assault. “It’s always rough without that father figure. A lot of my troubles started when my father wasn’t there because he kept me in line. My father was like a drill sergeant.

“When I came home (from prison) the neighborhood had changed. Crack cocaine was everywhere. All my friends were selling it and making money. They had fancy clothes, shoes and cars. I’m dibbling and dabbling, but then I started smoking it. I was 18, doing all kinds of crazy shit; robbing, ripping people off.”

In April 1989, Joppy robbed a carwash. He was quickly arrested and sent back to prison. After getting out in December 1990, the future world titleholder made a conscious decision not to go back.

Joppy worked a day job in garbage refuge and went to the boxing gym afterward. He had his first amateur fight the following March and went on to win the Eastern Olympic box offs which led to the Olympic trials. He would lose to future Olympic silver medalist and heavyweight titleholder, Chris Byrd.

Turning professional in February 1993, Joppy quietly went about his business, learning the sport against steadily improving opposition. Over the first two-and-a-half years, the Maryland native won all 19 of his bouts before signing with Don King.

After a draw with Rodney Toney in September 1993, Joppy won two more fights before being offered a shot at WBA titleholder Shinji Takahara. He jumped at the opportunity, stopping the previously unbeaten Japanese fighter in nine rounds.

“It was a great experience, going across seas to bring my world title back,” said Joppy. “The fans over there, they were really behind Shinji Takahara.

“I remember when the referee called us to the center of the ring, I noticed he was nervous. That gave me a boost. I made my mind up, I wasn’t going to travel 20 something hours and not come home with the title.”

The new titleholder defended twice before meeting Julio Cesar Green at Madison Square Garden in August 1998. Both men recovered from early knockdowns to fight tooth-and-nail over the 12-round distance. In the end, Green was a close unanimous decision. The rematch took place five months later and Joppy regained his title with a comprehensive points decision.

In the summer of 1998, Joppy faced off against a 47-year-old version of former four-weight world champion Roberto Duran.

“He’s a legend of the game,” acknowledged Joppy. “I was happy, but then again I was sad because he’s my idol. It was my time. He was definitely my hero. I told him after the fight I loved him and that he paved the way for guys like me. To be in the ring with him is an honor.”

Joppy made five defenses in total, including a rubber match victory over Green, before meeting Felix Trinidad in the semi-final of HBO’s Middleweight World Championship Series at Madison Square Garden in May 2001.

Trinidad was too much for Joppy, dropping him three times before the one-sided beat down ended at 2:25 of the fifth round.

Six months later, Joppy scored a controversial 12-round majority decision over tough contender Howard Eastman. However, inactivity blighted his career before terms were reached for him to face undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins.

There was mutual enmity between both parties which lead to Hopkins betting Joppy $50,000 he wouldn’t last the distance. Joppy won the bet but suffered a frightful beating.

Joppy stayed active for the next eight years but lost the big ones: Jermain Taylor (UD 12), Lucian Bute for the IBF middleweight title (TKO 10) and Beibut Shumenov for the WBA light heavyweight title (KO 6). He walked away after outpointing Craig Cummings in March 2011. Joppy’s final career record was (40-7-2, 30 knockouts).

Now 47, Joppy has five children and lives in New Carrollton, Maryland. He works as a personal trainer at Champion Boxing and Fitness and at Tony Balles Gym in North East Washington D.C. He also drives shuttle buses for students.

Joppy is a motivational speaker to at-risk youths and, in 2011, he formed an organization called Breakfast with Boxers. This  venture allows the former two-time world titleholder to visit homeless shelters and help people less fortunate.

Joppy graciously took time to speak to about the best he faced in 10 key categories.

He had a height and reach advantage and puzzled me with that jab. I got adjusted around the fourth or fifth round. In my boxing career I think (Takahara’s) jab was the most effective.

When I fought him, I was going through a lot – my daughter had died. I couldn’t really get him with a good flush shot. He’s real crafty: he uses his head, he keeps his head tucked in his shoulders and he keeps his jab out there too. He has a good jab – not like Shinki Takahara – but I would say as far as defense, Bernard Hopkins was the best.

When I fought in Miami back in 1997, I beat Peter Venacio at Coconut Grove. He had real fast hands, plus he could hit. He was from Brazil. It went 12 rounds, we went toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow, he was a tough guy. I had to really dig deep to get that fight. He had great handspeed, long arms and speed like a cat. He knew how to snap that jab and follow with that right hand and that’s what stood out about him.

Ray McElroy and Peter Venacio had good footwork. I had to switch it up on Peter Venacio. I was walking him down, then I got him to walk me down. I was more effective being the matador, not the bull. Ray McElroy moved a lot. My corner told me to work on his body, he couldn’t take the punishment to the body and I stopped him in the seventh round. I would say Ray McElroy.

I stopped him the last time but the first two fights were some battles. He was tough as nails. We fought the first fight in New York City, the second fight we fought in Tampa, Florida and the last fight we fought right here in Washington D.C. We had some wars. I would say him because he went to the distance twice.

Bernard Hopkins by far. Also, I would say Shinji Takahara, but he wasn’t fast enough and I caught up to him. Hopkins had ring generalship and smartness.

Julio Cesar Green first and Peter Venacio second. When we would tie up, I could feel Green’s strength. He would push me off. I didn’t want to get hit by a clean shot from him.

I still felt it the next day, but then it comes up that he was illegally wrapping his hands. Before I found that out, I gave him my respect.

I would say Peter Venacio because he threw a lot of jabs. He had good footwork too, he was slick, he had great cardio. We fought to the last second.

He’s so crafty; his defense was on point. I really couldn’t hit him with a flush shot. I’m not trying to make any excuses, but after I fought Felix Trinidad my career went on a downturn. All around (Hopkins) does it all, he’s not just one-dimensional. Someone like Julio Cesar Green; he’s one dimensional, he’s a bull. Bernard Hopkins can switch it up on you.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright


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  • Juan Manuel Valverde

    wow he went to the illegal wrapping hands??

    • Stephen M

      What is he talking about?

      • Gian Torres

        Tito “Cheato” was allegedly stacking his hands with tons of tape, which is much denser, heavier and harder than gauze. Joppy says his career was ruined after Trinidad and Trinidad’s career(won/loss % and k.o. %) also wasn’t the same after getting caught vs Hopkins. Bouie Fisher corroborated what Naazim Richardson said btw. Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing that maybe Joppy’s career naturally just went south from taking a brutal loss and the same for Trinidad after Hopkins. To be fair, Trinidad wasn’t the only guy cheating so who cares anyways?

        • D Johnson

          He said she said.

        • Julio

          You call Tito a a cheat, but then use the term “allegedly”. Dude make up your mind. You are not looking too bright.

          • Gian Torres

            It’s in quotes because somebody else called him that. I do believe Tito cheated but believe the same of some of his opponents. I rate Tito according to his accomplishments and performance and don’t give thought to this issue. He belongs in the HOF and is easily top 5 at worse for welterweights all time.

          • Gian Torres

            Oh, forgot to mention that BHop cheated the whole fight vs Tito with illegal hugs so nobody can say sh*t about Tito if they don’t mention BHop fought with illegal advantages.

          • Julio

            So now turned out that Hopkins beat Tito because of illegal hugs? Have a nice day.

        • Chris Smith

          Lol he KO’d his two wins after Joppy and he lost to Wright after a retirement when he was no longer the same and then Jones after another retirement (this time 3 years) and at light heavyweight. That could explain him not KO’ing Jones or Wright (who’s never been KO’d FYI).

          • Gian Torres

            LOL he ko’d Mayorga but you may have noticed Mayorga let him hit him with free shots and Tito didn’t hurt him? He ko’d him with accumulation. Cherifi was a bum so that’s that. Tito lost to a decent Joppy and it wasn’t after his retirement, the fight vs Mayorga was after his retirement. The fight vs Jones was at light heavyweight but Jones was a natural middleweight and he was washed up.

          • Julio

            “Tito lost to a decent Joppy” man are you high or what?

          • Gian Torres

            You said “have a nice day” so don’t bother me. It’s not like if you were gonna say anthing brilliant anyway. Have a nice day!

          • Julio

            OK kiddo I’ll leave you alone. But do yourself a favor, next time do your homework and fact check your comments before posting. Like I said before, you are not looking too bright. In addition, your spelling needs help as well. Have a nice day!

          • Gian Torres

            Still talking after you said “have a nice day”? And then you’re saying “do your homework and fact check your comments before posting” without specifying what comments you’re talking about. Like I said, you’re not going to say anything brilliant. Furthermore, you’ll never have new and/or powerful ideas. The best you will ever do is copy other’s ideas. *EVER*. And your spelling needs work too–> “So now turned out that Hopkins beat Tito because of illegal hugs” GTFO!

          • Colnef

            If you get into shape you can take Gian. I know you can do it. Soften him up with a couple of body shots then go up top for the big finish. After he goes down stand over him and say ‘have a nice day’.

          • Julio

            Don’t need to get in any kind of shape. Poor Gian is a lost cause. He still believe in the tooth fairy.

        • Carlos ‘Lito’ Andujar

          Here is from the horses mouth, Tito wasn’t cheating, His wraps where legal everywhere in the world except NY. Thats why he was never suspended. But let Brother Nazzim spell it out for you

          • Gian Torres

            Naziim’s looking out for a brotha. Bouie Fishcer corroborated what Naziim said so Naziim can’t take it back. I want to repeat that BHop cheated all night with illegal hugs vs Tito so nobody can speak badly of Tito *TRYING TO CHEAT*in this fight without mentioning BHop *SUCCESSFULLY CHEATING* throughout the whole fight.

        • Mark Schoeman

          “Trinidad and Trinidad’s career(won/loss % and k.o. %) also wasn’t the same after getting caught vs Hopkins.”

          That’s all the proof I need…others can feel free to deny, it’s a free world, but you can see he became a far more average puncher, plus his shots did way less tissue damage to the face.

          At the end of the day, I’ll always see Tito as a good fighter, who largely feasted on smaller guys, inexperienced guys, guys past their primes…and when he was beaten, he was outclassed: Oscar, Bernard, Winky, Roy, all took him with ease.

          • Carlos ‘Lito’ Andujar

            His next 2 victories where by KO and his loses where to Winky after a retirement and to jones at lightheavy after another retirement 2 HOF. what small guys did he feasted on? Tito move up in weight to fight Vargas. Was Vargas smaller or pass his prime? or david reid? the list goes on and on.
            they guy that supposedly “caught” him is stating that Trinidad wasn’t trying to cheat. But hey you in title to your own opinion and some people will ignore facts even if they hit them in the face with it

          • Spider Rico

            Trinidad lost because he went up too high in weight, just like Chocolatito Gonzalez and his mentor before him, the late, great Alexis Arguello did.

            Winky, Hopkins took place at 160 and Jones at 175 which Trinidad had no business fighting at. Tito’s limit was 154.

          • Julio

            Although I agree that 160 was a tad too much for Tito, I think it had more to do with the guy that was in front of him that night of his first loss. Style wise, Hopkins is a nightmare match up for Trinidad.

          • Julio

            You can’t really penalize Tito for losing to Winky and Roy. Tito was already past his best and those dudes were just too big for him. However, I do agree that Oscar and Hopkins outclassed him badly. But that is why they fight the fights. Tito was dangerous against fellow punchers or anyone that dared to stay right in front of him.

      • JV316
      • Left Hook2

        Probably like the stacking thing that Alvarez does. Tito kayoed guys because he had near-perfect form. A pillow wouldn’t have saved Joppy from that beatdown.

      • Colnef

        Exactly. What can you do? For some fighters it is just too much for them to accept they got whipped. The way Trinidad caught him with those wide left hooks maybe he should also blame his defence? Only a bit though, still mainly the wraps.

    • Chris Smith

      Sounds like delusion. That was cleared up even back then that is was basically nothing. Even Hopkins’ camp said as much. Joppy’s corner even watched them get wrapped and there was no wetting of the wraps or anything.

      Tito just hit incredibly hard and with perfect technique and accuracy. No wonder Joppy said it hurt the next day.

    • Mauro Hermida

      There were articles about this. His dad did some shady hand wrapping to say the least. Tito could obviously punch, but the way his hands were wrapped left a lot to be desired. Joppy was stupid in that fight. He just thought he could take whatever was thrown at him. If he fought smart and was a bit cautious early, he could have taken Tito deep and who knows?

      • Julio

        Joppy just wasn’t skilled enough to beat Tito.

    • marc

      Just for the record, the wraps in any other state would have been deemed legal however in New York there was a stipulation about how to wrap a fighter in there state. it was more a technicality than illegal.

  • Jeremy, UK

    Another fascinating article about someone who mixed it with some great fighters. I’m glad he has made a success of his life after some truly hard times and bad decisions.