Live Saturday night from Memphis, Tennessee in a fight broadcast on HBO, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor defends his middleweight crown against Ronald “Winky” Wright. No one looks good against Winky Wright, except for the octopus Sam Soliman, and the champion should to have hands full, but Taylor has youth, and Manny Steward, in his corner, so expect an intriguing matchup between a fully developed master boxer (Winky) versus a partially developed master puncher (Jermain) when these two get it on. This is how The Sweet Science writers see Taylor vs. Wright.
After watching HBO's "Countdown To Taylor-Wright" preview show, I would like to see Dan Birmingham, Wright's trainer, get in the ring with Emanuel Steward, Taylor's trainer, in a 12-round championship bout for the title of world's most dramatic trainer. Listening to Birmingham and Steward talk about their fighters is entertaining stuff. Birmingham is so intense he sounds like an actor playing a trainer on television. Steward oozes confidence. He is so sure of his methods that how can you go against Taylor? I'm not sure who to pick, but I can almost guarantee the fight will go the distance. Taylor by decision.
Wright may have looked unbeatable against Felix Trinidad last year, but "Tito" — a one-dimensional puncher with little movement — played right into Winky's hands. Consequently, Wright was able to dominate Trinidad with his freakishly long right jab. Same thing with Shane Mosley, who was also physically outmatched against Wright. That won't be the case when Wright takes on Taylor, who is taller, bigger and more athletic than either Trinidad or Wright. Most importantly, he is seven years younger at 27 years old. Taylor's versatility, ability and youth will make this fight razor-close heading into the championship rounds. That's when Wright's experience and superior defense will come into play, as Winky pulls out the last two rounds against a frustrated Taylor to win a controversial split decision.
When the referee says, "Protect yourself at all times," Winky Wright listens. He has a seemingly impenetrable defense, and comes out of his protective shell only long enough to throw short, precise punches. A throwback who is ready to take on all comers (no talk from Winky, as there was from Taylor’s camp, of taking an easier fight before this one), this former junior middleweight champion has grown comfortably into a middleweight. Although champion Jermain Taylor’s confidence is high after back-to-back victories over Bernard Hopkins – an accomplishment that has become even more impressive in light of Hopkins’ domination of Antonio Tarver last Saturday – in Winky Wright he is facing a puzzle he may not be able to solve. The fight will be competitive, but Wright wins by decision.
Tough one, but Winky still has that awkward, nobody-can-hit-me style. His southpaw stance might offer a few problems, but I don't think it will be a big factor. Taylor has the title belts and that always counts for something. He's a better fighter than he was before his Hopkins fights. Still, I'm going with Winky by decision.
Winky Wright is one of the most underrated fighters of all times. He has a lot of experience fighting everywhere against opponents with different styles and that’s why he scored major wins over Shane Mosley (twice) and Felix Trinidad. He has more experience in meaningful fights than Taylor, having fought 14 times for a version of the world light middleweight title. He became WBO/IBF champion... before his big wins over Mosley for the WBA/WBC belts. On the other hand, Jermain Taylor has only two important wins in his record: the ones against Bernard Hopkins. Beating an all-time great like Hopkins doesn’t make him great or even give him a spot in the pound-for-pound top ten. To be considered the best middleweight in the world and win the WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO belts, Hopkins had to prevail in 21 world title fights; Taylor just defeated Hopkins. He did it twice, but he just may be the kind of opponent Hopkins has trouble with. Wright on points.
Luca De Franco
I think Winky Wright has proven to be the consummate professional. I'm going with Winky via close decision.
The team of Jermain Taylor/Lou "Mr. Emotion" DiBella has got it all over the team of Winky Wright/Gary "I've Never Met a Dessert I Haven't Eaten" Shaw. Wright's airtight defensive style may pose a few problems for Taylor, but over the long run, Taylor will figure him out. Taylor becomes "The Man" in the middleweight division with a convincing decision.
WINKY ALL THE WAY. He and Dan Birmingham have fought long and hard to get to this fight and have learned too much along the way to be vulnerable to anything Jermain Taylor brings, no matter who he has in his corner. Jermain may be a great guy who has overcome a rough, sad upbringing to enjoy stardom and all the rewards it bears, but to me, Winky Wright stands for the guys that have labored in the boxing trenches for years, unappreciated, unrecognized and unpaid. On Saturday it will be Winky Wright by unanimous decision over Taylor.
A real pick 'em fight for a change and naturally I can't pick' em. Hearing ugly rumors that Wright hasn't been working hard, which is impossible to believe unless something is wrong physically. Emanuel steward in Taylor's corner may have been able to spot the way through Winky's defense. Maybe. I’ve got to go with what I thought when the bout was made – Wright by close decision. It's not a prediction. It's my pick. I get paid to make picks. I don't get paid to be right.
Winky Wright relies on positional fighting, a leveraging right jab to lead the way and being the bigger fighter. Against Jermain Taylor he gives up the physical advantages with which his technical prowess has been formulated. The middleweight champion will be coming in with a jab that Wright might find hard to handle, as well as quickness and serious right hands. Over the distance, Taylor has more options, more power and slightly more speed. That, to me, adds up to a 12 round decision.
If you throw out Bernard Hopkins, Wright has beaten at least a dozen fighters better than anyone Jermain Taylor has fought. On the other hand, apart from what was left of Felix Trinidad, he didn’t beat them as a middleweight. From this vantagepoint Taylor has clear advantages in youth, and in the fact that he is a natural 160-pounder while Winky is not. Wright has never been knocked out and we don’t see that happening here, but if Taylor can keep his wits about him and avoid the frustrations endemic to fighting Wright, he has the tools to become the first man of the millennium to beat The Winkster. Taylor by decision.
I had to pick someone so I'll go with youth and speed over age and experience. Taylor is a solid middleweight and may look at the Wright-Soliman fight and get the idea that Winky can be beat if you pressure him with odd angles and get away before any return fire comes. Wright is a stylish boxer, but remember that he doesn't dance around the ring and pepper opponents with jabs; he stands in front of them using angles and zinging counters to pile up points. So Taylor will have no problem finding Wright and should be able to fire right hands down the middle and move to not get stuck back if he uses more lateral movement. Nobody can fight like Soliman, but the fact is he was able to frustrate Wright with angles and a high punch output. It is not going to be an easy fight by any means and Wright will have some moments where he frustrates Taylor. Still, look for Taylor to use his edge in power and speed to log a close points win.
Don't judge Winky Wright by his last performance against Sam Soliman. The 16-year vet just needs to get up for fights these days, and he was neither up not prepared for that unorthodox Australian whirlwind. Ah, but Taylor will be seeing the best of the Winkster, who will exploit that bow-and-arrow jab, that forward-leaning head, that telegraphed rocking motion, and his numerous other technical flaws. Emanuel Steward cannot undo that much in six weeks; Taylor may look cleaned-up in sparring or on the mitts but he will fall into old habits when he gets tired or desperate. Yes, Taylor is big and strong and has the heart of a champion. But Saturday Winky will prove that maxim: skills pay the bills. I see Wright winning a close decision, 7 rounds to 5.
Neither of these two fighters excites me much – especially when fighting each other. Wright beat a marginalized Tito Trinidad and Taylor beat a shrunken Bernard Hopkins who should have been fighting at light heavy. If Winky's on his game, he might to be able to befuddle Taylor. Bernard Hopkins couldn't do it though and Taylor should have the firepower and skills to eek out a split decision. Taylor via split decision.
Jermain Taylor has everything going for him – youth, power, Manny steward and an unbeaten record if you think he beat Bernard Hopkins, not once but twice. Still, I think old pro Winky Wright will win a decision.
Ronald “Winky” Wright’s patient, defense-first attack has made greats like Felix Trinidad and Sugar Shane Mosley look downright bad. However, Taylor’s jab is much more punishing than Mosley or Trinidad’s. It will dictate the fight’s pace while Taylor’s other attributes will enable him to win a majority of rounds. Taylor by unanimous decision.
I'm 50-50 on this one...We have to elevate Taylor after seeing how much Hopkins had left...Wright is a master boxer, a better technician than Taylor...but maybe Wright has a Tarver type night...he is after all 34...then again, Winky hasn't lost since 1999, does he even remember how to lose? Christ, you put me on the spot here...I like Steward as the tipping point and think Taylor will be too active for Winky...
Yet another example of a hard to pick, meaningful championship fight in boxing's latest run of what seems like an almost weekly series of fine matchups. Another tough call indeed. It's easier to predict there will still be some "expert" goobers who don't see how far up the ol' pooper their heads look when they keep referring to a "dying" sport, year after year. The fact that Taylor and Wright got together so quickly after Jermain met Hopkins is another win for the fans. While there's enough solid evidence through previous showings by Wright to make it quite possible he keeps Taylor off balance for twelve rounds, it seems unlikely Wright can get a decision without initiating much of the action. Taylor should shove Wright around more effectively that Sam Soliman did. It may not be pretty, but Taylor will emerge victorious, and any win over Winky at this stage is a big win.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV