By Rick Reeno
Several years ago, Ronald "Winky" Wright (49-3, 25KOs) was unable to land fights with big name opponents. Today, top fighters from 140 to 168 pounds are calling him out. He was once known as a boring fighter who would never make it. Today he is known as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport. Winky Wright took the same long road as former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. Wright knew that if he stayed patient and kept on winning, sooner or later, top fighters would be forced to fight him. On March 13, 2004, his patience paid off when he scored a unanimous decision over Shane Molsey to unify the junior middleweight division.
A rematch with Mosley was set for November 20, 2004 and once again, Wright fought his way to a unanimous decision. The fight that made Wright a household name, took place in May of this very year. Wright moved up to the middleweight division to challenge the returning Felix Trinidad in the top seat of a highly publicized pay-per-view event. Winky took a chance that paid off in a very big way for his career and his bank account.
Coming into the fight, Trinidad was favored by most boxing experts, but it was Wright who fought like the heavy favorite. Winky, went on to dominate Trinidad to the point of embarrassment. The dominating performance was so strong that even experts who picked Wright to win were shocked. In his fight with Trinidad, Wright opened the eyes of the public and proved the point that he has been making his entire career, that he is one of the best fighters in the game.
BoxingScene sat down with Wright to discuss some of the fighters that are calling him out, his next scheduled fight and his future in the sport.
BoxingScene.com: In the last couple of months, your name has been linked to several of the sport's most popular stars as a possible opponent. I'm going to run down a list of fighters that have publicly said they are negotiating to fight you, want to fight you or planning to fight you. As I give you some of the names and stories associated with them, you can confirm on what is actually true and what is false. The first guy is Floyd Mayweather.
Winky Wright: Floyd, I want to fight him. He asked to fight me and that's cool, but I think he was just doing that as a ploy to keep his name out there. You know what I'm saying...just something to keep his name out there, but like I said, when it came down for them to sign the fight they didn't do it. It was either him or his people.
BoxingScene.com: There are people in the media who think his desire to fight you was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
Winky Wright: That's what I think it was too.
BoxingScene.com: There have been reports that he was offered 9 million in order to make the fight, is that an accurate number?
Winky Wright: Well, I don't know, but for me, I was offered 6 million and for 6 million hands down I would have fought him. I kind of knew they were giving him 9 (million), but I think it should of been 50-50 like I've said. He's a small guy, a great fighter, but if he wants to fight, he isn't the big draw. He isn't (the draw) like he thinks he's (Oscar) De La Hoya so if we're going to do it, we will do it 50-50 or we just won't do it.
BoxingScene.com: There have been plenty of rumors overseas with respect to a possible fight with Joe Calzaghe.
Winky Wright: That is a false statement. That's false right there. Joe Calzaghe, I don't know how my name keeps coming up in there, but I'm not going to fight him unless he fights Jeff Lacy. That's the dude he needs to be fighting. He needs to fight Jeff Lacy, because if he doesn't fight Jeff then there is no reason for me try to fight him.
BoxingScene.com: There have been reports circulating around with respect to Don King having an option on your next fight. Your promoter, Gary Shaw, has publicly said those reports are false. What is your reaction to these reports?
Winky Wright: Gary Shaw would know. Whatever Gary Shaw said about that, he would know. He knows everything about that part of the business. We are free to do what we want, Don King does not run us. Don does not tell us who we could fight and when we could fight. We could fight when we want to fight.
BoxingScene.com: There have even been rumors about you and Jeff Lacy getting together for a potential fight.
Winky Wright: No, that's my man. Me and Jeff Lacy grew up (together). I saw Jeff when he was a little kid. I'm not fighting Jeff Lacy, he's like my little brother...you know what I mean. I'm not going to fight him. If they offered us a whole bunch of money, if they just want to give money away, we'll have fun and take it.
BoxingScene.com: Is the date set for your next fight?
Winky Wright: Yes, I just talked to Mark Taffet of HBO. He said the date is definitely set for my next fight. It's just that we have to find an opponent. I offered a few fighters a fight, but we don't know what they want to do yet.
BoxingScene.com: What is the date that people should mark down on their calendars for your return?
Winky Wright: December 10th. I want to get back in the ring. I want to show my fans that I'm ready, I'm ready to fight again. We beat two of the top (fighters), at the time when I was calling everybody out. There were four fighters up there, now we have two more to go and that's De La Hoya and (Bernard) Hopkins.
BoxingScene.com: I know there were discussions regarding a fight with Ike Quartey. Gary has said that Ike priced himself out.
Winky Wright: Yeah. HBO gave us a few names. These are the people we want to fight Winky. So I'm like ok, these are the people you want me to fight...ok. We made some offers and then they came back with some crazy offers. They basically priced themselves out. They are acting like they are the world champ or they are already again. He just came back, I'm giving him the opportunity to fight and make good money. When I was fighting, nobody tried to give me a good heck of the money for a fight so I'm going to do the same thing.
BoxingScene.com: The possibilities seem endless for you right now. Fernando Vargas just came back to the ring and right there is a possible big money rematch.
Winky Wright: Vargas, I'm not going to fight him right now. I'm going to leave that alone right now. If it comes then we will talk about it, but there are some things that have to be talked about before that fight.
BoxingScene.com: There was some talk a few months back, regarding Oscar De La Hoya having interest in staging a fight with you. Were there any serious discussions to make the fight or was this something Oscar was putting out there to test the fans' interest in the fight?
Winky Wright: A while back, after I beat Tito (Trinidad). Oscar came up and said that he would fight us. Somebody made a proposal from his camp. They gave us the proposal and we felt that the proposal was not good enough. We turned it down.
BoxingScene.com: If no big fight comes along, would you consider fighting one of the title holders in your division?
Winky Wright: It depends on what division though, that's what it is. I would fight anybody, it depends if it makes sense for me. Why would I do, if it doesn't make sense.
BoxingScene.com: At this moment in time, there is a lot more money to be made at 160 pounds, based on their champions, than going down to face the champions at 154 pounds.
Winky Wright: That's true too. Like I've said, we have to wait and see what comes up. I know how it is to be on the outside looking in. I don't want to shut anyone else out like that and make another fighter be on the outside looking in. But at the same time, I probably took my whole career to get to this point so I need to make all the money I can, while I can.
BoxingScene.com: Does it frustrate you that so many top fighters publicly use your name as a possible opponent, but none of them are signing a contract to fight.
Winky Wright: You know it, it's crazy. Everybody is talking about they are going to do this and they are going to be the best, but in the end, nobody wants to fight. And the people that do want to fight, they aren't the people I should be fighting for the fans to see.
BoxingScene.com: You achieved everything that you ever wanted to achieve in your career. You won some big fights, you got the big money, you have a high ranking on the pound for pound list and you unified the junior middleweight division. What do you think is left for Winky Wright to do?
Winky Wright: I just want to give the fans some big fights. My last three fight were very big fights for me and I think the fans enjoyed them a lot. I love the way the fans are giving me their approval. Everywhere I go, people say you are a great fighter, you are a good guy. I just want to give them what they want to see and they want to see the best fights out there and I'm going to give it to them. I'm not that fighter that is running away from the best fights. I just want to get paid for the best fights, just like everybody else. I just want to show the fans that I'm thankful for them supporting me, let's get the best and when it's over...it's over.
BoxingScene.com: Years ago, following your loss to Fernando Vargas, your name was not even mentioned by the top fighters. They said you were too boring to fight, you weren't a big enough name and fighters used those excuses to duck you. How does it make you feel that at this point in your career, no matter where you turn, all you hear are the top fighters saying "Winky Wright, Winky Wright, I want Winky, I want to fight Wright".
Winky Wright: (laughing) It feels good. You get to look back at all of those people who doubted you and said that you couldn't do it and you would never get to this point. And now you could see those same people and tell you how big you are, and then you have to remind them not forget that a couple of years ago, "you said that I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be there". It feels good. A lot of fans supported me, but to get the basic fans to love me, it feels great.
BoxingScene.com: In closing, what would you like to say to the people reading this.
Winky Wright: I want to say that, don't let the media or certain fighters tell you that other fighters are doing things. Some fighters out there, like De La Hoya will say, "I want to fight this person", just to keep his name out there. It's a marketing plan, he is just doing that as a marketing plan to keep his name out there, but he knows that he isn't really going to fight someone until next year, you know what I mean. I want the fans to go out and believe in the fighters they believe, not because the media is promoting them, but the fighters that they think are the best fighters out there and support them because there could be a lot more Winky Wrights out there if they ever get the opportunity.