Wright's return detoured, but not discouraged
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
This week was supposed to go a bit differently for Winky Wright.
Come Friday morning, the multi-division veteran was supposed to be in the final stages of preparation for a perceived comeback bout with rugged gatekeeper and reality TV alumnus Grady Brewer.
But now, rather than fleeting hours on the road at the fight venue in Puerto Rico, Wright is back home in Florida and again pondering the next step in a successful last run at big-stage relevance.
"Yes, I still think I have it in me to be a champion again. Or else I wouldn't be doing this," said Wright, who celebrated birthday No. 38 in late November, within days of the announcement that his Saturday match with Brewer had been scrubbed.
"I'm not one of these guys who'll be there just to be an opponent or a line on someone else's record. I think I can still win fights. And if I can get into position to have another big fight with a good payday, I'll do it. If not, it'll be time to stop."
Winless since a wide decision over Ike Quartey in 2006 and largely inactive since, Wright had hoped a win over Brewer would be a springboard back into the lucrative financial picture now focused at 147 pounds, just below his comfort zone.
Winky Wright's record stands at 51-5-1 with 25 knockouts.
He dropped a 170-pound catch-weight verdict to Bernard Hopkins in a pay-per-view showdown in 2007, then spent two years on the shelf due to injury before returning for a one-sided middleweight loss to Paul Williams in Las Vegas on April 11.
The Williams result was the first decisive "L" of a career often marked by dubious verdicts and other reed-thin controversies -- with Wright winning just two of a possible 36 rounds on three scorecards against a freakishly tall and uniquely busy foe.
He reactively mentioned the two-year layoff in post-fight remarks, but conceded later that the matchup might not have been a good one regardless of his lead-in workload.
"Styles make fights, and that's not a great style mesh for me," Wright said. "He's a hard guy to fight. He's got those long arms and he throws more punches than you'd think. Maybe with a couple more fights beforehand it would have been different. But it's just not a good mix."
The Brewer fight alone may not have erased that poor taste, but it was a match Wright considered viable enough to prove he remained capable of competing with the best in the world between welterweight and middleweight.
Wright's record stands at 51-5-1 with 25 knockouts.
"Grady's a good, tough fighter and he's been in there with a lot of the biggest names," Wright said.
"No, a win over Grady Brewer doesn't make you a champion, but I think it gives you the chance to show what you have and puts you on a winning track toward something else."
Instead, it seems the something else will have to wait.
Wright is hoping to fill the gap with an as-yet-unconfirmed appearance on next month's Shane Mosley-Andre Berto undercard. And with a win, he said he'd consider any and all options ranging from the evolving tournament at 168 pounds to the multi-starred constellation at 147.
In fact, Mosley, considered by some to be the best in the world at the latter class, was beaten twice by Wright in title bouts at 154 earlier this decade before dropping down and reinventing himself.
"I don't think Shane would really consider fighting me again, because, as it was for me against Williams, it's not a good style match for him," Wright said. "But he's living proof that you can lose a fight or two and still come back and change the perception. I don't see any reason I can't do the same thing."
* * * * * * * * * *
It was another one of those moments last week.
I've had a few of them. When, either upon while seeing a fight live or hearing of its result for the first time, my jaw just dropped.
It happened while watching Hearns-Barkley I live on PPV. After hearing the outcome of Douglas-Tyson while out with friends at the old "Plantation" bar in Niagara Falls, Ontario. And again when watching Foreman-Moorer with my parents on HBO.
The last two times have something else in common.
In 2004, it was Roy Jones Jr. hitting the deck after Antonio Tarver's closed- eyes left hand crashed into the right side of his face in round two of their rematch -- shattering the aura of invincibility that had covered 50 fights and an Olympic Games.
And last Wednesday, it was Roy again.
While scanning the early morning headlines from my desk in beautiful downtown Gainesville, Fla., I happened upon the AP headline "Danny Green stops Roy Jones in first round" about 12 minutes after the story was filed from Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.
But nearly a week later, it still hasn't sunk in.
Not that I thought a 40-year-old Roy was bulletproof or that it had been impossible to conceive of him losing to the unheralded but still worthy Green, but I'd have been lying had I claimed there was any concern Jones's quest for a cruiserweight belt would be over inside three minutes.
A bruising, late TKO? Maybe.
A close decision in front of hometown fans? Perhaps.
But a first-round dusting in "Chuck Woolery Special" time -- 2 minutes, 2 seconds?
Don't get me wrong. I still contend it does no more damage to "Superman's" legacy than Berbick-Ali, Camacho-Leonard or Wiley-Chavez did to their losers, but I nonetheless do hope it's the last time I hear the news about Jones.
He's still got his money. He's still got his faculties. And while he surely still belongs in the top 10 at light heavy and might still be a worthy foe should Bernard Hopkins continue to avoid Chad Dawson, he surely doesn't need to prove anything to anyone who refused to recognize his supremacy in its prime.
If they didn't believe it before, they never will.
But as for those of us who did...thanks Roy, for a great, great flight.
This week's title-fight schedule:
WBA/WBC super flyweight title -- Rancho Mirage, Calif. Vic Darchinyan (WBA/WBC champion) vs. Tomas Rojas (WBC interim champion) Darchinyan (32-2-1, 26 KO): Second title defense; Unbeaten at super flyweight (7-0-1, 6 KO) Rojas (32-11-1, 22 KO): First title fight; Seven-fight unbeaten streak (6-0-1, 3 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Darchinyan in 8
WBO junior welterweight title -- Rancho Mirage, Calif. Timothy Bradley (champion) vs. Lamont Peterson (interim champion) Bradley (24-0, 11 KO): Second title defense; Held WBC title in 2008-09 Peterson (27-0, 13 KO): First title fight; First fight in California
Fitzbitz says: Bradley by decision
WBC heavyweight title -- Bern, Switzerland Vitali Klitschko (champion) vs. Kevin Johnson (No. 5 contender) Klitschko (38-2, 37 KO): Third defense of second WBC reign; Eleventh title fight (8-2, 8 KO) Johnson (22-0-1, 9 KO): First title fight; Three-fight knockout streak
Fitzbitz says: Klitschko in 7
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at email@example.com, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.