Saturday on HBO-PPV, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Ronald “Winky” Wright each take a step up in class at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when they find each other in the center of the ring. While both fighters have always tried to meet the best in their divisions, the number of willing partners wasn’t always up to par. Tonight that won’t be a problem.
After emerging from a two-year retirement in October of last year, Trinidad easily took apart the exciting but limited Ricardo Mayorga. The Nicaraguan Mayorga had his best fighting days at 147-pounds and will never be spoken of as much of a technical boxer. At the middleweight level “El Matador” was in way over his head both in class and weight. In the end it was target practice for Trinidad, who looked in fine form as he worked off some early ring rust and came back with a bang.
The TKO 8 victory for Trinidad over Mayorga was an announcement that he was officially back and ready to wreak havoc on the rest of the division. HBO fed us a steady dose of praise and hallelujahs as they put a pro-Trinidad spin on every punch “Tito” landed against Mayorga – but not once mentioning how limited Mayorga was, or talking about the jumps in weight Mayorga had made to make the bout. The fight was entertaining more because of Mayorga’s ability to feast on a steady diet of razor sharp rights and thunderous left hooks and come back for more than for what he had to offer in return. Eventually he succumbed to Trinidad’s constant volley of power shots and left the ring battered and beaten, prompting a retirement of his own. With Bernard Hopkins being the major cause of Trinidad’s initial retirement, “Tito” was looking for other alternatives before looking to tangle with “The Executioner” again.
In meeting Wright, Trinidad will be taking on a slick boxing southpaw who has only lost three times in his 15-year professional career and perhaps never has truly been beaten beyond his defeat at the hands of Julio Cesar Vasquez in 1994. Back in 1998 Wright lost a decision to Harry Simon in South Africa and dropped a majority decision to Fernando Vargas the following year. Some believe that Wright did enough to take the nod from Vargas, and most agree that Wright getting a fair shake fighting Simon in Africa was a long shot to begin with. But in the past five years, Wright has been unbeatable.
Wright was looking to cement his name among the sport’s stars when he took on “Sugar” Shane Mosley in March last year for the IBF, WBA and WBC light middleweight titles. Despite winning a clear-cut decision, dominating Mosley, and officially claiming the right to call himself the best 154-pound boxer in the world, Wright never gained the recognition he felt he deserved. With no new opponents on the horizon willing to get it on, Wright met Mosley again and took another decision victory in November.
With nowhere else to turn, Winky Wright will make the step up from 154-pounds to middleweight in order to meet Trinidad in what is officially being billed as a WBC middleweight title eliminator.
The step-up in class for Wright is obvious, as he takes on one of top fighters of this generation and does so at a higher weight than he has ever fought. The weight, however, won’t likely be a major factor in this bout. Since the Washington, D.C. born Wright turned pro in 1990, he has been fighting at the same weight. For a 33-year-old boxer to not have made a move up in weight in fifteen years is an oddity, and Winky certainly will find things very comfortable closer to 160-pounds. To see Wright when he was not in training for a bout makes one wonder how he possibly made it to light middleweight for so long; he’s a big guy.
For the Boricua, Felix Trinidad, the step-up in class is a big one. He’s going from the in-your-face wild-swinging Mayorga to the sweet moving, accurate punching southpaw Wright. And that just one fight out of retirement. Trinidad inflicted most of his damage upon the welterweight division. He hasn’t really filled out to a middleweight size and therefore likely won’t hold any advantage in weight.
What this bout boils down to is Felix Trinidad being able to connect with his heavy-handed attack and wear down Wright in order to pick him apart late. In the other corner, Wright will be looking to show Trinidad many different angles to avoid being caught flush, yet remain in a position to counter. While being a slick boxer, Wright is less of a “mover” than he is a “shaker.” He won’t jab and move around the ring all night long circling his opponent, but will be there in front of Trinidad offering as little a target as possible and playing tight defense while waiting to return fire.
In the end it seems that Winky Wright lacks the power to dent Trinidad’s armor and the edge in power will likely be the key to Tito winning the fight . . . much to HBO’s delight.