Talking Legends: Winky Wright

A Saint Petersburg, Florida native, 🇺🇸Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-6-1, 25KO) was one you would consider to be a master boxer when he operated in his own element, and could make a case for being one of the greatest Southpaws to ever lace them up. Wright was one who lived by the mantra of no wasted energy, and operated at his best in middle distance. He had a ramrod of a jab that served as his greatest weapon, and certainly was one of the best 2 or 3 jabs in that entire generation. His defense however was his trademark…

Winky didn’t rely on anything flashy, just perfectly positioned classical defense with both hands up, elbows tucked in, and excellent instinctual movement to be able to pick anything off that was purposely rounded off to try to land behind the defense. Due to Wright having longer arms that you would typically see from someone his size, that defensive position caused plenty of headaches for top competition, serving practically speaking as an impenetrable shield that protected everything from the waistline up, as he picked you apart out-boxing his opponents.

He was one that I wouldn’t consider to be a massive puncher, but I would classify him as a heavy puncher, being that he made a conscious decision to seldom over-commit on his shots to always keep his defense integrity in tact, yet punching hard enough to command his opponents respect, and marking up his territory, showing the damage done via bruising and cuts on his opposition. Winky perhaps due to his fighting style is one of the most underappreciated great fighters of the last 3️⃣0️⃣ years, but when you converse with the hardcore boxing public, Wright’s opponents that he mixed it up with, and his contemporaries in the sport of boxing that boxed around the same time he was active, he tends to get high acclaim all across the board, as he should.

Winky’s campaign at the professional level started in late 1990, and without any major promotional backing, had to come up the hard way and earn his keeps. He won his first 25 fights (mostly in Tampa Bay, Florida & in France) before he would get his first opportunity at a World Title against tough Argentinian 🇦🇷Julio Cesar Vasquez in 1994. It was an odd fight, one that had Wright hit the canvas 5 times. Things didn’t quite go Wrights way, nonetheless the fight was still a close one on official cards, but the decision was given to the Champion Vasquez. Wright would rebound from the loss to win a secondary NABO belt, taking on competition and patiently waiting his turn for something major. In 1996, he would have the first of his three fights with his rival Bronco McKart, for McKart’s WBO Junior-Middleweight Title for Wright’s official attempt at a World Title. The fight turned out to be a solid one. The scores after 12 were close on the cards, but Winky was given the victory via Split-Decision. Wright got 3 Title defenses under his belt before he would meet with Namibian (Africa) fighter 🇳🇦Harry Simon. The challenger was a very active fighter, and came forward with a high volume of punches. Winky was selective with his shots without falling into the trap of loading up on just a single shot, while he did his best in picking the punches off coming from the Namibian fighter. The fight was competitive, and after the 12th round, it was ruled a Majority Draw, however long after the fact, Wright was informed in his dressing room that there was an error with the scoring, and that Simon was awarded a Majority Decision, an unbelievable set of circumstances that had the IBF belt exchange hands when Wright thought he had a successful title defense by retaining his title with the draw. From Winky’s vantage point, it felt like an injustice had just occurred.

In Winky Wright’s career, it became a common trope unfortunately that he seemingly would get the short end of the stick in most situations, seldom getting the benefit of the doubt in his close fights, due to promotional reasons, and perhaps from his fighting style which wasn’t exactly fan friendly, though very effective for the Florida fighter. This theme would surface once again when Wright would get a crack at young Mexican-American phenom 🇺🇸Fernando Vargas, who was the IBF Light-Middleweight Champion and was taking the division by storm, letting his presence be known at just 21 years of age. This fight was an excellent one, with back and forth action, with various ebbs and flow to this contest. Wright showed his veteran tactics in pivoting and counter-punching, while Vargas displayed his boxing IQ that far superseded his age, his athleticism and his accuracy. This one went the full 12, and a cloud of uncertainty filled the arena as to who won the fight, while the scorecards were being gathered. Once again Wright experienced the feeling of being shorted, as he lost a Majority Decision to the man nicknamed “El Feroz”. While Wright wasn’t given the decision, he was the very first fighter that gave Vargas a serious test in his fast budding career at the time, which is worth something. Following this fight, Wright fought a rematch against Bronco McKart. Unlike the first fight, Winky thoroughly out-boxed Bronco and left nothing up to question, blowing him out on the scorecards to get Wright the wide Unanimous Decision victory that he coveted. In the following year, the IBF belt that Vargas possessed was now made vacant, and Ronald put himself into prime position to be eligible to fight for it. He would square off against Robert Frazier, whom Wright had no trouble with dominating. Winning the IBF strap, Wright could now call himself a 2X World Champion. In the next few fights, Winky was especially dominant and started receiving high praise for his level of pugilistic technical brilliance from the purists brigade of the sport. Winky fought McKart for a 3rd time, but it turned into an egregious foul fest, as McKart had 5 points taken away, and was eventually Disqualified from continuing after a repeated chain of low blow fouling. Winky would defend his Title twice more after that, and finally got the fight he was looking for, which was the chance of a lifetime, not just because of WHO he was fighting, but also WHAT he was fighting for…

In 2004, Winky Wright agreed to fight with P4P Superstar and Future HOF’er ♛🇺🇸“Sugar” Shane Mosley for a March date. With Mosley holding the WBA & WBC Middleweight Titles, and Wright possessing the IBF strap, this was a battle that would crown an 👑Undisputed World Champion, which would be the first time that the Light-Middleweight/Super-Welterweight division would ever be completely unified. Prior to this fight, Mosley had only lost to one fighter, that being 🇺🇸Vernon Forrest, who he lost to twice, and following, had defeated friend/rival 🥇🇺🇸Oscar De La Hoya in a close fight that was a re-match of their riveting original bout that took place in 1999.

WRIGHT VS MOSLEY 1

With Wright being the betting underdog, it was astonishing to see the level to which he was routinely dominating Mosley through their fight, out-boxing and frustrating the hell out of the warrior from Eastern L.A. The upset was on call for the night, and the phone was picked up, as Wright won a wide 12 round Unanimous decision to become Lineal Champion, and the divisions first ever 👑Undisputed Champion. Winky Wright and 🇺🇸Shane Mosley ran it back for an immediate re-match 6 months after their first encounter.

WRIGHT VS MOSLEY 2

The fight was a closer one, with Mosley making some keen adjustments, however it still wasn’t quite enough, as Wright outjabbed Mosley, and boxed his way once again to a win, this time by Majority Decision, securing back-to-back wins over an All-Time great, and cementing himself as one of boxing’s best fighters during that stretch. With the division completely his, Wright felt there was nothing more for him at the weight, so he moved up to the Middleweight division and immediately targeted another All-time great, this time the menacing 🇵🇷Felix “Tito” Trinidad for what was technically a Title-eliminator bout, yet was obviously for so much more.

WRIGHT VS TRINIDAD

This was one of the most dominating performances I ever seen against another great boxer, especially considering how devastating Trinidad could be, but Winky delivered a steady dose of jab after jab…after jab…after jab…that Felix couldn’t get around. Tito failed at breaking down and finding cracks in Wrights defense, and Winky did a masterful job of nullifying Trinidad’s vaunted left hook, completely taking it out of play and turning the proud legendary Puerto Rican fighter into a punching bag. Wright nearly pitched a shut-out on all 3 official scoring cards, and just like that, Ronald “Winky” Wright had won his 3rd mega fight in a row against Hall-of-Fame opposition, pushing his 📈stock to the pinnacle of the sport, with his eyes focused on the Middleweight prize.

Winky would fight one more Title eliminator, this time against well-respected Australian fighter Sam Soliman, who put up a solid effort, but Wright did what he had to do to advance towards yet another mega-match. Next Wright would finally get his shot against former Undisputed Middleweight World Champion 🥉🇺🇸Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor for the Lineal Middleweight Championship of the World. There were plenty tense moments authored up by both men, but mostly from Wright, who gave the decorated, but raw young Champion a boxing lesson through 12. In one of the worst decisions I seen during that time period, the bout was ruled a Draw, thus Taylor keeping his Lineal, WBC & WBO Middleweight Titles. It was abundantly clear to those in attendance and many fans who tuned in to watch that Wright out-boxed Taylor to what should have been a convincing Decision, however Deja Vu struck once again with Wright not getting his just-due, this time a far more egregious set of circumstances that set the blockade up that prevented him from becoming a 2X, 2-Division Lineal World Champion.
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Winky refused to let his foot off the gas-pedal, as in his next fight, he would take on the great 🇬🇭Ike “Bazooka” Quartey at Middleweight, for a showdown of the 2 best jabbers of the ENTIRE generation. By this point in their careers, Wright was the fresher of the two, and it showed, as Wright was very sharp in out-pointing Quartey who was routinely a half step slow to his mark on the night. Wright afterwards decided to take a massive gamble, moving up 2 weight divisions to fight the legendary 🇺🇸Bernard Hopkins for the Lineal Light-Heavyweight Championship of the World. Considering Winky’s size, they decided on a catchweght of 170 lbs for their contest. The fight was a very boring one, but a highly contested one that felt near impossible to find some separation in. With another close fight in the air, you knew Wright wasn’t going to get it due to his luck in those situations, and Hopkins retained his Lineal moniker. All in all, if the ball bounced in a different direction for Wright in his fights against Hopkins and Taylor, he would have been a 3-Division Lineal Triple-Crown winner, which would have been a special cap to sit atop the rest of his accolades in the sport of boxing. Winky Wright decided to retire from the sport of boxing in 2007, but he decided after 2 years of being away from the action, to return to the sport he loved. With no tune-up fights whatsoever, he jumped right in to face dangerous & avoided talent 🇺🇸Paul “Punisher” Williams at Middleweight. By this point, you could immediately see that Wright wasn’t the same, and any time an older fighter drops down substantially in weight, it tends to have a negative effect on their physical attributes. On top of that, Williams was a damn good, tall, rangy fighter, and he further proved it by dominating the former P4P level boxer in Wright, doubling his punch output by throwing over 1,000 punches while Winky was stuck in the mud trying to get his shots off. After this fight, Wright stepped away once again, but he would come back 3 years later in 2012 to fight talented Middleweight 🇺🇸Peter Quillin, but nothing went Wrights way, and dropped another decision. Upon realization that he no longer had that edge that made him a top boxer for the better part of a decade, Wright finally hung up the gloves for good, leaving a lasting, and unique legacy that hardcore boxing fans will never let slip through their memory. Here are a list of his accomplishments. 🖼️

ACCOMPLISHMENTS ⬇️
– 1X Undisputed World Champion (Junior-Middleweight)
– 1X Lineal World Champion (Junior-Middleweight)
– 4X Title Winner (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, LINEAL)
– Won 11 Fights in World Title Bouts
– 9 Wins Over 6 Fighters Whom Were Champions
– Recorded 3 Wins Over 2 HOF’ers (In a Row)
– One of the Premiere Jabs of the Last 25 Years
– Revered as one of the Best Southpaws of All Time
– Became the First Ever Undisputed Champion at 154
– Regarded as one of the Greatest Junior-Middleweights.
– IBHOF (Inducted FIRST-BALLOT in 2018)

SIGNATURE MOMENT🖊️ Shocking “Sugar” Shane Mosley in their first fight, dominating to become the Undisputed Junior-Middleweight Champion of the World.

NOTABLE WINS – 🇺🇸“Sugar” Shane Mosley (2X), 🇵🇷Felix “Tito” Trinidad🇬🇭Ike “Bazooka” Quartey🇦🇺Sam Soliman…..Controversial loss to 🇺🇸Bernard Hopkins, highly controversial loss to 🇳🇦Harry Simon (scoring blunder), a debatable loss to 🇺🇸Fernando Vargas.
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NOTABLE DRAWS – Had a highly controversial draw verdict with 🥉🇺🇸Jermain Taylor for Lineal Middleweight World Champion (most felt Wright won it).

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