Saturday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, 54-fight veteran Ronald “Winky” Wright made a rookie mistake; he gave away a fight he could have won.
Apparently Wright never grasped the concept that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” as he rode his bike for most of the last three minutes of his fight with Jermain Taylor, and left the middleweight title belts behind. It seems that everyone watching and in the building, including Wright trainer Dan Birmingham, saw the hotly contested bout within a point or two either way, except for Winky.
As the final scores were read – 115-113 Wright, 115-113 Taylor and 114-114 even – it became clear that if Wright had won the last round on two of three cards he would have left with a majority decision victory. Instead, Jermain Taylor remains the middleweight champion as recognized by the WBA, WBC and WBO.
Post-fight Wright expressed his frustration that he “knew” he was winning and made the assertion that “the fans know who won that fight.” But the fans don’t know who won the fight, because nobody did.
With the fight still up for grabs in the twelfth round, Wright gave the impression that the outcome of the fight was a foregone conclusion in his favor. He never choose to meet Taylor and exchange as we had seen for the previous eleven entertaining rounds and elected to stay on the perimeter moving around the young champion but firing little.
Both fighters had their moments throughout the championship bout as Wright landed whistling jabs and Taylor scored with searing right hands down the pike. After being on the wrong end of several right hand shots early in the bout, Wright closed the distance to keep the fight inside rather than at a distance where Taylor could extend on his loaded punches. Winky was effective landing a pesky right hook in close while Taylor responded often by bouncing hooks off the challengers ribs and liver.
That script played through for much of the night with each fighter taking a round at a time and neither building any kind of tangible lead. Wright scored by peppering the young champion with jabs and right hooks and several left hand leads that found their mark and began to leave their mark. Taylor continued to win his heats by setting his feet and unloading his heavy-handed arsenal of rights and hooks to the body delivered with bad intentions.
As the fight wore on both combatants showed their battle wounds. The southpaw Wright swelled under his eyes and over them as well – under from the accumulation of punches, over from the frequent accidental head butts that occurred. Taylor’s left eye also received plenty of attention between rounds as the eye continued to swell despite the efforts. It was that way for most of the night as many rounds were close to call on their own, just as the fight was when judged in its entirety.
How Ronald “Winky” Wright thought the fight was in the bag will remain a mystery. He also played the victim card when he attributed the decision to Jermain Taylor being the local fighter. “Bad Intentions” Taylor is from Little Rock, Arkansas and the fight was in Memphis so that may be a bit of a stretch but perhaps the hospitality extends over state lines. I don’t know. I do know that Wright said after the fight that he was in Taylor’s “hometown” and they “gave him (Taylor) what he wanted,” but not even being in the same state may being stretching things a tad. It seems to most observers that the judges got it right and should be commended accordingly.
Besides, if Winky actually believed that Taylor might get some home cookin’ on the cards, why did he take off the last round? That makes his behavior in the last three minutes of the bout even more perplexing.
As it stands Jermain Taylor is still the undisputed middleweight champion and Wright will look to other opportunities ahead rather than pursue a rematch. Both fighters were battered and beaten for their night’s work in a very entertaining bout, but neither was shortchanged on the decision.
On this occasion, Wright was wrong.