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For Winky, it’s lonely at the top.

BY Rick Folstad ON April 30, 2003
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The loneliest guy in the house Saturday night won’t be sitting alone at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. He won‘t be in the cheap seats or worrying about the paycheck he just lost at the tables or wondering where his girlfriend is while he’s at the fights.

The loneliest guy in the house Saturday night will be IBF junior-middleweight champ Ronald "Winky" Wright, who will be watching Oscar De La Hoya defend his title against Yory Boy Campas.

Wright will be wondering what happened to his big opportunity, why fate left him with a ringside ticket instead of a full night’s work, why Yory Boy is getting a title shot against De La Hoya and all he’s getting is an usher to show him his seat.

But Winky Wright is used to being shunned by De La Hoya and promoter Bob Arum. He’s been there before, heard the excuses and watched the two turn their backs on him and head in a different direction.

All Wright wants is a chance to unify the junior-middleweight title and make a big payday for himself. He wants the two best junior-middleweights in the world to find out who is the best junior-middleweight in the world. He wants De la Hoya, but De La Hoya and Arum don’t appear to want him.

"I don‘t know what I have to do," said Wright, who had a plane ticket from his home in St. Petersburg, FL to Las Vegas to see the fight. "Why don’t the two best junior-middleweights in the world fight to see who’s best? Don’t they want to unify the title?"

Guess not.

In the meantime, Wright says all he can do is keep fighting and winning.

"After awhile, Oscar will either have to fight me or retire," Wright says.

The smart money is betting on his retirement.

What Wright wants is a chance to sit down with De La Hoya and have a face-to-face, a little discussion about the future of the junior-middleweight division.

"I’d love to sit down with him and say, ‘Look, Oscar, we need to make this thing happen.’ But they just don’t want this fight."

Arum says Wright doesn’t sell well. He’s not a big name, not a cash cow, so they’ll pass on the fight.

Of course, Yory Boy Campas isn’t a name you hear bantered about the dinner table. He doesn‘t appear in any "Drink milk ads," and he hasn’t sat down recently on the set of The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.

But he’s fighting De La Hoya for the WBC and WBA belts.

"People know who I am," said Wright, who is promoted by WBA heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr., and has fought on Jones’ undercard. "And people know I can fight. They know I don’t shy away from tough fights."

You can’t blame De La Hoya or Arum for avoiding him. Wright is a tough fight. A southpaw, he can make you look silly if you give him the chance. His three losses have all been by decision, and they include majority decision losses to Fernando Vargas and Harry Simon.

"I know I beat Vargas," said Wright, who isn’t alone in his assessment of their fight. "And if I can’t fight Oscar, I’d like to fight Vargas again or maybe Bernard (Hopkins)."

Yeah, but fighting anyone but De La Hoya would be like settling for a hamburger when you’re in the mood for a T-bone steak and hash browns.

"People know what they’ll get from me," Wright said. "They know I always come to fight."

That’s why he’s the loneliest guy in the house.

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