LOS ANGELES-Across the street from the arena where one legend recently spanked a rising star a few weeks ago, two of the most avoided prizefighters, Winky Wright and Paul “the Punisher,” Williams met to proclaim they’re ready and willing to face each other.
“You’re gonna see a hell of a fight,” said Wright with his eyes gleaming.
Wright’s excited because on April 11, at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, he’s signed to face welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder Williams (36-1, 27 KOs), who’s just as anxious to test the more experienced fighter.
The fight will be shown on regular HBO and is co-promoted by Goossen-Tutor, Winky Wright Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions.
It’s Wright the near legend versus Williams the scourge of boxing. Will the legend beat up the young upstart like Shane Mosley did three weeks ago in Los Angeles?
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy, says Mosley and Bernard Hopkin’s victories prove a third time will be inevitable.
“There’s a reason that they’re legends,” said Schaefer.
Ever since Wright emerged out of the club fights of Argentina and Europe to surprise fight fans with a superb performance against Fernando Vargas in 1999, other fighters have suddenly been overwhelmed with illnesses whenever his name is mentioned.
“I’ll fight anybody,” said Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) whose last bout ended in a loss to Bernard Hopkins in July 2007. “I was willing to fight Joe Calzaghe in Wales but they turned it down.”
Williams knows how it feels. Though he’s actually a 147-pound fighter he’s ventured to 154 and 160 and is willing to go to 168 if necessary.
Last November he moved up to junior middleweight to fight IBF titleholder Verno Phillips. Months earlier he fought middleweight Andy Kolle. It would not be a surprise to see the lanky Williams challenge Wladimir Klitschko.
Like Wright, the amiable Williams doesn’t care how good his opponent is.
“When I get older I want my kids to say I fought this guy and that guy,” said Williams, who’s also got Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, Kelly Pavlik on his hit list. “Anybody who has a big name I want to fight. I like challenges.”
The press conference was held at the ESPN Zone across the street from the Staples Center. The upstairs conference room and bar was filled to capacity with media representatives sprawled in the red velvet carpeted room.
HBO’s Tony Walker said that fear of losing the boxing crowd has sparked a number of the most enticing fights in years clumped together by rival promoters.
“This fight is going to carry the momentum,” said Walker.
Williams and Wright almost happened late last summer, but HBO decided to go with Pavlik and Hopkins.
George Peterson, who trains Williams, foresees a very classic battle with his fighter testing Wright’s defense at maximum drive.
“I don’t know how many punches Winky is going to be able to block,” said Peterson, adding that Williams can average about 125 blows a round.
Again, a pair of pound for pound ranked fighters will meet in the center of the ring. One is a cagey veteran, the other is a young beast of a fighter.
“We know Winky Wright is formidable for any 160-pounder and been the most avoided fighter around,” said Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor. “We think Paul Williams not only been avoided but he’s feared.”