LAS VEGAS-Looking like the veteran pugilist he is, Winky Wright sat hunched on the platform as words were tossed by both his and Paul William’s team on Thursday.

Forget that Wright hasn’t fought in nearly two years. All you had to do is look at his face when Williams spoke to the media and you realized he’s bursting to get in the boxing ring.

Boxing machine Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) challenges punching machine Williams (36-1, 27 KOs) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Saturday, April 11. The 12-round middleweight fight will be shown on HBO along with the heavyweight Chris Arreola-Jameel McCline bout.

It’s going to be fun.

If you read on a regular basis, then you know that we’ve been talking about this showdown since last August when it was first proposed. Back then, it was passed over in favor of Bernard Hopkins and Kelly Pavlik.

For a few months I was excited about this confrontation. Let me explain why.

Most boxing fans (not TSS readers) only watch on a casual basis and prefer pure knockout punchers to boxing stylists, simply because people love knockouts.

Wright has built up a lasting reputation as a defensive boxer who can nullify anybody with his ability to block shots, counter and jab.

“Nobody can win a fight with just blocking,” says Wright angrily.

What Wright means is he’s captured 50 wins and there was a lot of punching involved.

“You don’t see nobody bum rush me,” Wright adds.

Big Paul Williams has etched a reputation as a human freight train that keeps coming and coming.

Together, Williams and Wright spell E-P-I-C.

Their fight will be one of the best of the year. Of course the casual fans are going to say that it’s going to be boring, but real fans should know this fight is going to be toe-to-toe and no holding what-so-ever. They’re going to bring it.

About 10 years ago, there was a similar fight between two smaller prizefighters. One was known as a come-forward punching machine, and the other was known as a defensive stalwart who just couldn’t punch much. Does this sound familiar?

At the time I had some very good friends (one who died in 2000 from cancer) who did not believe me when I told them it was going to be a great fight. They all shook their heads in unison. After about a week of me insisting they go to Vegas for the fight, they finally relented.

Ironically the fight was held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino too. It was a brand new arena at the time and hadn’t staged many fights. On this particular night two bantamweights contenders entered the ring to a near full house.

The two prizefighters that night were Johnny Tapia and little-known Paulie Ayala. When the bell rang in the first round, it was like igniting a keg of gasoline because these two guys exploded on each other.

My friends Dr. Mario Perez – who passed away from cancer two months after watching Oscar De La Hoya fight Shane Mosley in their first fight – and publisher Jesus Jimenez had gingerly come along. When I looked back at them after the third round they just had these two big smiles. They knew they were witnessing a boxing gem.

Twelve rounds later, it was Ayala whose hand was raised to the astonishment of half of the crowd. That night the real winners were the boxing fans who saw one of the best fights in the last 19 years. They don’t come that often.

Williams and Wright should bring that same fiery element when they square off on Saturday. I could see it in their eyes that they were anxious to get the fight going.

“I’m going to take it to him,” said Williams with this big gleam in his eyes. “I’m not looking to wait.”

Wright nodded his head excitedly. After spending most of his career chasing opponents, he has a guy who is equally anxious to trade blows.

“I say cool, lets do it,” says Wright. “I can’t wait. It’s been a long time.”


Immediately following the Wright-Williams showdown HBO will air the first of the 24-7 series for the upcoming Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton junior welterweight clash. The special series gives an inside look on the title match that pits Philippine hero Pacquiao and British stalwart Hatton. It’s scheduled to air at 9:30 p.m. PT.

Following the 24/7 HBO special, will be a never-seen before presentation of the Thrilla In Manila fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. In this documentary, it’s Frazier who tells his side of the story on the epic battle that capped their three fights.

It should be a remarkable look from a side not heard from regarding one of the best heavyweight battles in the history of boxing (10 p.m. PT).