Marriage difference in Eplion#039;s life, career

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Nikki Eplion is back with her old trainer, Corky Salyers. Together they are giving her a makeover that would make Glamour magazine stand up and take notice.

Eplion and Salyers believe a change is needed for her to climb back up the women's boxing ladder and get another title shot.

But all the technical adjustments Eplion is getting can't measure up to the change she has made outside the ring.

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Her marriage to D.J. Bryant.

"He's made the most difference in my life," Eplion said.

With her time in the past split between training, working a full-time job and trying to raise her sons, Kyle and Ryan, Eplion said her husband has made her world less hectic and stressful.

"His goal is my goal," Eplion said. "D.J. makes a huge difference. My life is more calm. I've been married for over a year and he's made things easier. Without him my life would be very difficult."

The couple's marriage came last year around the same time Eplion got a title shot against Laila Ali. She admits she wasn't really ready for the fight, but she accepted the offer because Ali's camp wasn't going to make the proposal again.

A fourth round technical knockout to champion Ali devastated Eplion in July of last year, but she rebounded to win a unanimous decision over Ijeoma Egbunine in March and is now 14-2-2 with eight knockouts.

Eplion, who is from South Point, said reuniting with Salyers as her trainer has made her a different fighter.

"You'll see a different fighter than you've seen," Eplion said. "I'm six-foot tall and it was always easier for me to fight on the outside. But now my inside game is amazing. This is the hardest I've ever trained in my life."

Eplion will fight unbeaten Akondaye Fountain for the WIBA American's Championship belt Friday night at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Her fight is one of 12 schedule bouts.

Fountain is 5-0 with three KOs.

"I made a promise to Huntington and the Tri-State that we would bring a title fight to Huntington and we have. And I will have that belt around me at the end of the night," Eplion said.

Local fighters on the card include Ironton's Adam "The Atom Bomb" Collins, Ashland's Cory "The Cobra" Phelps, Coal Grove's Chris "The Hammer" Brammer, Mike "Chico" Salyers, and Jason Pettaway who makes his pro debut.

Tickets for the event are available through the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, TicketMaster and South Point Ford.

Tickets prices are $15 for general admission, $25 for preferred seating and $40 for ringside.