Gasp! Is There A Malfunction In The Winky Wright Self-Career Killing Machine?

Winky Wright built an unlikely career as a star in boxing the hard way: Winning until no one could deny that, despite his defense-first style and utter lack of knockout power, he was one of the best in the sport, deserving of recognition and eyeballs. And for a while, it really was working out for him. He was getting big fights, nursing an eight-year streak without a loss, developing a Hall of Fame resume and even becoming an unlikely hip-hop icon with appearances in music videos for Busta Rhymes and Jamie Foxx, quite an achievement for a counter-puncher nicknamed “Winky.”
But after a 2006 draw with middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Jermain Taylor, then a totally understandable loss last July to fellow cerebral boxer Bernard Hopkins at 170 lbs., 10 pounds higher than he should ever fight, Wright has sabotaged everything he built because of sheer vanity. He demanded too much money for a rematch with Taylor and turned his nose up at the likes of Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham — no worse than the second-best middleweight and super middleweight (168 lbs.), respectively. So no way would he think about taking a tune-up fight just to keep his name out there. He wouldn’t fight buddies Roy Jones or Vernon Forrest, leaving, really, just Oscar De La Hoya or Kelly Pavlik as names he was interested in. De La Hoya was always a stretch, and even after Pavlik’s team got interested in Wright, well, surprise surprise, Pavlik promoter Bob Arum said Wright was asking for too much money. Wright is a 36-year-old that spent forever trying to build himself into an attraction, and has spent a year doing nothing but giving people every reason to forget about him.
Now comes a possible break in the self-imposed Wright embargo.
“Right now we’re going to explore what the situation is with Winky Wright,” Arum told in a story that published Friday. “Because Winky has learned that his monetary demands are unrealistic, although he’s a good fighter and what was around a while ago, just isn’t around today. It’s as simple as that, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about! Go Winky! Realism! I hope Arum’s interpretation is correct. Wright’s the best match-up available for Pavlik outside of Joe Calzaghe and Abraham, both of whom are otherwise occupied for the fall and therefore unavailable to Pavlik for his own fall return. It’s a very winnable fight for Wright against a major boxing superstar, not that I’d favor Wright, and a real serious test of Pavlik’s boxing skills against a boxing master, one that, if he were to pass it, would really put him on a whole ‘nother level.
Pavlik-Wright Sept 27! My fingers are crossed…

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.