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November 2002
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Who's Ruining It for Winky?
By Rick Folstad

He's still out there waiting, though no one seems to notice him standing just outside the circle with his fists cocked, wondering what he has to do to get a fight.

He's the IBF junior-middleweight champion of the world, but so what? Who cares? That title might get him introduced at a high school basketball game in Tampa, but it doesn't promise him anything beyond a quick bow at center court.

Ronald "Winky" Wright's name isn't mentioned at many dinner tables and he hasn't had one of those "fights of the century, the decade or the year." He hasn't fought a De La Hoya or a Mosley or even a Forrest, though he did pump a big scare into Fernando Vargas awhile back, losing to him by a majority decision.

He's just a champion who is standing on the outside looking in, begging for a chance.

Hey, Winky. Get a life. Become a mailman, a construction worker, a bartender. Build houses or drive a truck or dig ditches. You'll get more respect. Start working 40 hours and give up this crazy idea that you deserve a chance in the fight game.

Besides, who have you beaten lately? Oh yeah. Bronco McKart. OK. He's a tough guy. But have you beaten Oscar De La Hoya yet? Oh, that's right. Promoter Bob Arum doesn't want that fight. Something about selling tickets. At least that's the story he's sticking to.

When De La Hoya - the WBC/WBA junior-middleweight champ- recently proposed his "Final Four at 154" fight-off, he mentioned Wright as one of the contestants. He had to mention him. Look around and you'll notice Wright is the only other junior-middleweight champion out there. How do you blackball a champ? Besides, a win over Wright and suddenly, the Golden Boy becomes the undisputed junior-middleweight champion of the world. It would be his first undisputed title.

Same with Winky if he wins.

De La Hoya also mentioned Vargas as a guest contestant along with Shane Mosley and Vernon Forrest. He said they were all invited, including Winky. The problem is, there are five guys but only four openings.

But then a funny thing happened overnight. Arum woke up, took center stage and reminded everyone that Winky Wright might be big in his hometown of St. Petersburg, but will his name sell in Poughkeepsie? Do they know him in Boston, New York or Fargo? When was the last time he fought in the Garden? Has he been accused of using steroids like Vargas? Did he lose to Mosley like De La Hoya? Did he lose twice to Vernon Forrest like Mosley? Was he recently stopped by De La Hoya like Vargas? No? Well then what good is he?

What Arum proposes is a fight between Mosley and De La Hoya in the first round, with De La Hoya then taking on the other first-round winner, Vargas or Forrest.

"My interest in this is that it provides a viable opponent for Oscar in the second round," Arum was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. "It's a good idea to have Vargas and Forrest fight."

I guess a win over Mosley by De La Hoya is a given. Why don't we just skip that fight, Bob, and give Oscar a walk-over.

As for bringing Winky into the mix, Arum is quoted as saying, "God forbid if Winky were in the tournament and he won. How could I sell it?"

Let's be honest here, Bob. You’ve been selling it all your life.


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