Winky Wright: Wright Ring Conspiracy

Patience is not without its consequences. Following his close July 2007 loss to Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright was still considered one of the Top 5 Pound for Pound fighters in the sport. Then suddenly Wright stopped fighting, claiming both lack of suitable opponents and financial compensation for a fighter of his caliber. Now 21 months […]

Patience is not without its

consequences. Following his close July 2007 loss to Bernard Hopkins, Winky

Wright was still considered one of the Top 5 Pound for Pound fighters in the

sport. Then suddenly Wright stopped fighting, claiming both lack of suitable

opponents and financial compensation for a fighter of his caliber. Now 21

months after his last fight, the former undisputed junior middleweight has

finally found a foil in the similarly avoided Paul “The Punisher” Williams. But

at 37 years old, will time finally run out this Saturday (April 11, HBO Sports)

on the elite former champ? Thank you for making time out of your training

schedule. First question is the one that everyone has for you. After the

Hopkins fight you were still considered a Top 5 Pound for Pound fighter. What

reasons kept you out of the ring for so long?

Winky Wright: No problem, my brother. Well, nobody wanted to

fight. It was just that simple. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to fight or anything…

I just couldn’t get anyone to fight. So I just had to wait until somebody

wanted it. [Editors Note: During the last

two years, potential fights with Kelly Pavlik, Jermain Taylor, and Vernon

Forrest all failed to move forward] The one person that has come in is Paul

Williams. He’s had a history already in his young career of being avoided by

marquee fighters. Was he the only fighter that stepped up, or did you have

other fighters in mind before you made your final decision?

Wright: It was pretty much [just] him. HBO gave us some names. All the

fighters they wanted, didn’t want to fight. Paul was the only one that would

accept that fight. That’s how it came about. In your last few fights, you’ve been opening up

more offensively, and it’s caused your fights to be a lot more exciting. Are you

going to continue that trend against Williams, or try to be more


Wright: I’m going to do whatever I have to do. I’m gonna go in there and

be Winky Wright. We’re going to adapt inside the ring [to Paul] and use

whatever works for us. How has your body been responding to training

since you’re coming off a long layoff and moving back down from 170 to 160


Wright: We definitely had to work to get in shape. Like you said, it’s a

different weight class and being out for so long, we had to work hard [Editors Note: During the layoff, Wright was

reported to have weighed as much as 193 pounds]. We’re ready. I’m looking

forward to the opportunity to show the fans what they’ve been missing. Looking at your career, most people point to

your wins over Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad as your most dominating

performances. If you had to select one fight for a fight fan that’s never seen

you perform, which bout would it be that epitomizes what Winky Wright is

about in the ring?

Wright: Hmmm. I like my [Julio Cesar] Vasquez fight. A lot of people

didn’t get to see that. It was the first time I fought for a world

championship. [Editors Note: 1994 WBA

junior middleweight title bout]. I fought overseas in France. I had some

shoes that were slippery and really couldn’t keep my balance. And I was still

boxing the light out of him, but every time I would slip and fall they would

call it a knockdown. But it showed the heart and determination I had to keep

fighting and keep digging down to try and win the fight. I thought it was a

great fight for me. You’ve had some highly disputed decisions that

have gone against you….

Wright: Yes! From Vargas, to Hopkins, to Taylor…a lot of bad decisions!

[laughs] [laughs] Which one would you say was the worst

and bothers you the most to this day?

Wright: Hmmmm. I would have to say [Fernando] Vargas because of the

timing. I was just coming on the scene and that was a fight that I definitely

won. Outside of the ring, you have Pound 4 Pound

Records. How are you approaching that endeavor since the music industry is

changing its model of distributing music and artists?

Wright: When I first started my label I, was just trying to get into the

R&B and Rap side. But like you said, it’s so tough out there. I’ve moved my

vision outward. I have this rock band that’s trying to do their thing called

Radio Reset. That’s who we’re backing right now, trying to crossover and get

into that side of the [music] industry. Your face has been seen in a lot of Hip-Hop

videos over the last 4-5 years. You’ve worked with 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Jamie

Foxx, J Prince, and others. When developing your business plan for the label,

did you seek out any of their advice, or was everything done on your own?

Wright: I pretty much did everything by myself. I got good friends in

them guys like you said. They would let me know if I was going in the wrong

direction. I got with Chris Lighty management-wise, so when I need to know something

I can ask him and find the best way of doing it. A lot of people weren’t aware that you had an

intriguing web-series starring Jadakiss, Jamie Hector, Egypt, and Shyheim

called Winky’s Spot (

What’s the status of that and the soundtrack you were working on?

Wright: That was a nice little thing that came at the wrong time. The

money ain’t flying around for a lot of new ideas anymore. Winky’s Spot was a

good look, we were trying to do something different. The timing was just bad

with the recession and everything going on. Speaking of the recession, what is your opinion

on the way boxing has been moving since you’ve been away from the ring?

Wright: The money hasn’t been really hurting boxing. What’s hurting

boxing is not putting the best fighters in with each other. You have certain

individuals, networks, and managements that are working together. They’re

getting advantages over other people that deserve to get fights. These

relationships are getting in the middle of it and preventing the best fights.

That’s why a lot of people are watching MMA and UFC, because they’re just

throwing those guys in there. You want to fight each other? Boom, then fight.

And people pay for what they want to see. But when you put a fighter in with

someone you know he’ll beat, why would you watch it? You know who’s gonna

win. You’ve been calling out Oscar De La Hoya since

about 1999. Was there ever a point where he actually approached you about a

fight, or has he always brushed you off?

Wright: There was sometimes where he said “he’s looking forward to the

fight.” But it’s never happened yet. He pretty much just dances around the

question. That’s why I mean when you talked about the best fighters out there

[not fighting]. I’m talking about legends that don’t want to fight me. That’s

what causes problems [for boxing]. You have numerous endeavors outside the ring,

along with various legends on your resume. What is driving Winky Wright to

still continue to box at age 37?

Wright: For myself. There’s about two more fighters out here that I

really want to fight. I don’t want to call no names right now. I’ll handle my

business on April 11, and hopefully we’ll get these fighters. And like you’ve

said I’ve accomplished a lot in the boxing game, and then I’ll move on to other

things. Is boxing promotion a possibility for you?

Wright: Oh yeah. I been had Winky Promotions with my partner Chris

Lighty. The networks are like the rap game. If you don’t know or are not down

with that certain person, it’s going to be hard for you to get into the

limelight. Boxing promotion is the same thing. The networks have been giving

the push to the same old people they’ve always been giving it to. And that keep

things down. Who do you enjoy watching perform in the ring?

Wright: I like Cotto, little [Andre] Berto. I also like watching [Juan

Manuel] Marquez, those kinds of fighters. Any closing thoughts?

Wright: I got to run and do this physical [for the fight]. But thank you

man for this.