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Joppy has hairline fracture; complete recovery expected; Neck vertebra is cracked, but spinal cord unhurt


World Boxing Association middleweight champion William Joppy of Washington, who suffered a neck injury in an auto accident in Capitol Heights on Monday afternoon, was told by doctors at Prince George's General Hospital yesterday that he will likely be able to resume his boxing career in "two to three months," according to the fighter's adviser, Ollie Dunlap.

A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed that Joppy, 28, sustained a hairline fracture to his seventh vertebra (at the base of his neck), but that no damage to his spinal cord had occurred and no surgery was required. He did require 14 stitches to repair a gash over his left eye as result of his head hitting the windshield.

"There is no sign of paralysis," said Dunlap. "He is getting back the feeling in his legs and arms. His spirits have really soared."

Another MRI exam was scheduled last night and, if no other damage is indicated, Joppy could be released from the hospital as soon as today.

He had been scheduled to defend his World Boxing Association title against mandatory challenger Darren Obah of Australia at the Washington Convention Center on Feb. 6.

A victory would have put him in position to fight the winner of the Bernard Hopkins-Robert Allen bout -- which also is on the Feb. 6 card -- for Hopkins' International Boxing Federation crown.

"This [diagnosis] lifts a great weight off everybody's mind," said Dunlap. "He hadn't made enough money from fighting as yet to give him a nice retirement. All his big-money fights are still ahead of him."

IBF to hear Rahman

The nine-man executive panel of the International Boxing Federation will hold a special meeting in Elizabeth, N.J., Saturday to hear Baltimore heavyweight Hasim Rahman's appeal for a rematch with David Tua of New Zealand.

Rahman's co-managers, Steve Nelson and Robert Mittleman, filed a protest after Tua stopped Rahman in the 10th round of a scheduled 12-round bout in Miami Dec. 19 to determine who would be ranked No. 1 behind current champion Evander Holyfield.

Rahman had been leading by a comfortable margin on all three judges' cards when he was stunned by a Tua hook just before the end of the ninth round. Tua landed another hard left after the bell that further damaged Rahman, but referee Telis Assimenios did not penalize Tua or allow Rahman a longer rest period between rounds.

With Rahman still shaken, Tua trapped him on the ropes at the start of the 10th round and landed several punches without Rahman replying, prompting Assimenios to end the nationally televised bout.

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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