By Jake Donovan
The three years which Winky Wright spent away from the ring weren’t entirely by choice. The 40-year old would have loved nothing more than to enter his June 2 fight with Peter Quillin any other way than on the heels of an extended layoff and a two-fight losing streak.
Unfortunately, no such opportunities surfaced for the former 154 lb. king and pound-for-pound entrant. With offers limited to that of opponent role, Wright instead decided to take a break, but also stay ready in the event that something came along.
It didn’t, at least not until he was offered the chance to face Quillin on Showtime. The opportunity isn’t the greatest. Their bout is part of a televised quadruple header from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., which doesn’t translate into very much money to be made for the fight.
Still, it was better than the fights Wright has been offered following his lopsided points loss to Paul Williams more than three years ago. Rather than just settle for any given fight, Wright patiently waited until the right opportunity came along.
“There was no one significant who wanted to fight me,” Wright insists. “I couldn’t get any big fights or fights that mean something. I’m not here just to entertain or just fight to have a fight. I’m fighting because I want to be champ. I want to be the best.
“None of the champions want to fight, so I was like I’m not going to chase y’all. My legacy is in stone. I would love to fight, but nobody wanted to fight.”
Once the offer came to face Quillin, Wright headed back to the gym and began working with longtime trainer Dan Birmingham. It wasn’t the easiest process after enduring a hiatus that also saw him enter middle age. What helped was the fact that Wright – once infamous for his love of Krispy Kreme donuts during downtime – never let himself go during his forced vacation.
“I’m not going to say I was in boxing shape. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t in boxing shape,” Wright reveals. “I was around 185, but I wasn’t fat. I wasn’t walking around with a big belly or anything. I wasn’t in boxing, but I was still in shape.”
The June 2 bout will take place at the middleweight limit, where he hopes to once again contend for a title shot. Wright came within a point of dethroning then-unbeaten lineal middleweight king Jermain Taylor in June ’06, but was far less successful in fattening up to 170 lb. for a crack at then light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins one year later.
Always confident in his ability to perform, the hardest part for Wright in preparing for Quillin was once again acclimating himself to a boxing climate.
“It takes a little bit of getting used to,” Wright admits. “I’m not going to sit here and say lies, like oh yeah I jumped right back into the deep. It takes some getting used to. I work hard for this. I’m in shape, I’m ready and prepared.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]