Rip Van Winky
Winky Wright returns from long layoff to take on Paul Williams
Story and photos by Chris Cozzone
The last man no one wanted to fight will take on the latest man no one wants to fight.
“I’m coming back to the top level,” says former champion Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs), who’s staging his return April 11 on HBO against two-time welter champ Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
“Anyone else, they get an easy fight, or a tune-up,” says Wright, who’s arisen from a two-year nap of inactivity. “But not me. I only want to fight the best.”
Though Williams is considered one of the best in boxing, Wright doesn’t see it that way.
“He hasn’t fought anybody,” says the fellow southpaw. “He beat one guy—Antonio Margarito—and Shane Mosley destroyed the one guy he beat.”
Wright has back-to-back wins over Mosley in 2004.
“You got to beat more than one guy before people start throwing out praises.”
Lack of top shelf opponents or not, Williams three-bout winning streak has him favored over the inactive Wright on the sportsbooks.
“I like being the underdog,” says the former champ. “Boxing is about overcoming obstacles, about doing what people think you can’t do.
“Williams’ biggest challenge is his reach. He’s got a punch, but he’s no Tommy Hearns. He’s got an awkward style but I just got to fight smart, make him fight my fight.”
Fighting his fight was something Wright was not able to pull off in his last bout two years ago, when he was outpointed and outhugged by Bernard Hopkins.
“I still don’t feel I lost that fight,” says Wright. But it is what it is. All he did was hold and hug and headbutt. I tried to make it a fight.”
After the decision loss to Hopkins, Wright says he was unable to get any other big names to sign on the dotted line.
“HBO gave us a list of names and we went after all of ‘em,” says Wright. “But no one want to fight me. They’re lying if they say any different.
“I wanted Jermain Taylor, but they stalled and outpriced themselves, made it impossible to happen. I wanted Arthur Abraham, I wanted Kelly Pavlik . . . I went after all of them but couldn’t get them to fight me.
“I guess they were waiting for me to get old, or get ring rust. There’s been a lot of ducking and dodging.”
In the two years off, Wright went up to 192 but is now around 10-12 pounds from his 160-pound goal.
“I’m definitely ready for a guy like Williams,” says Wright. “We got a game plan for him.”