Robert Silva is back with his bios, this time on the super welterweights. First up is Ronald “Winky” Wright.
Ronald “Winky” Wright was such an excellent prospect early in his career that he was shunned by all the major United States promoters and television networks. The reason being was that he was a southpaw boxer who was hard to hit. No one wanted to put their young prospects or contenders at 154 pounds in the ring with Winky because they felt it was a high risk/low reward fight. Winky responded by going to Europe in 1992 where he was able to hone his skills for the next six years.
Wright’s first 154-pound title opportunity came against WBA Champion Julio César Vazquez on August 21, 1994. The then undefeated 21-year-old Winky was just too inexperienced to defeat such a cagey, unorthodox fighter in Vazquez and he was knocked down several times before losing a unanimous decision. The loss only made Winky more determined to become world champion as he won his next nine fights before getting a shot at the WBO 154-pound title on May 17, 1996 against Bronco McKart. Winky traveled to McKart’s hometown of Monroe, Michigan and won a split decision for his first world title.
Wright went back to Europe and successfully defended his title three times before journeying out to South Africa. There, he defended against the tough Namibian fighter, Harry Simon. Wright was robbed of his title in the dressing room, as the verdict was originally scored a draw. While in his locker room preparing to leave, an official from the South African Boxing Commission explained to Winky that the scoring on one of the judges scorecards was tabulated incorrectly and that Simon was in actuality the winner and new champion. After being swindled of his world title, Winky went back to the United States and resumed his career. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d experience larceny in the ring.
After winning an IBF title elimination fight, Wright received a shot against IBF 154-pound champion Fernando Vargas on December 4, 1999 that was televised on HBO. This was the first time my father and I had ever seen Wright fight on television and although we had heard he was a slick boxer, we didn’t think he could defeat one of the rising young stars in boxing. Vargas had been on television since his pro debut and had become a very popular, power punching champion. Right away, my father and I were impressed by the way Winky fought. Winky stayed right in front of Vargas and made him miss all night long while landing several rapid fire combinations. Wright had a unique defensive posture; he’d keep his long arms practically glued to his face and deflect his opponent’s punches off his gloves and arms. With that defensive stance, he was able to hit you at will because he was always in position to hit you with his tremendous jab and hand speed. Vargas’s face looked like it had been hit with a baseball bat after the 12 rounds were completed. My father and I were shocked and dismayed when Vargas was awarded the decision. One of the worst robberies my father and I ever had the displeasure to see. Once again, Winky had to go back to the drawing board.
Wright never received a rematch against Vargas as Vargas lost his title a year later to legendary Puerto Rican Félix Trinidad. Instead of defending against Winky, Trinidad moved up to 160 pounds. Winky instead fought and easily defeated Robert Frazier by decision on October 12, 2001 to finally win the IBF title. After easily defending his title four times, Wright was ready for the biggest fight of his career; a unification title fight on March 13, 2004 against WBA and WBC titleholder Sugar Shane Mosley.
Just as he did against Vargas, Wright put on a defensive and offensive clinic against the favored Mosley. Mosley was unable to penetrate Winky’s guard and avoid his sizzling combinations. Mosley took a similar beating as Vargas did against Wright, and Winky easily won a 12 round decision to become the first fighter in the history of the division to hold the WBA, WBC and IBF 154-pound championships simultaneously. Eight months later, Wright soundly defeated Mosley in the rematch. A few months after that, Wright vacated all his titles to move up to 160 pounds.
Ronald “Winky” Wright was such a technical marvel inside the ring. He was a boxer who made his opponents miss by staying in the pocket, not having to move much, and used his incredibly long arms to block and deflect their punches. He had a pinpoint right jab that was one of the greatest jabs ever utilized by a southpaw. He threw punches in combinations, and everything off his jab. Because he was so relaxed in the ring and didn’t move around too much, he was as fresh in the 12th round as he was in the first round. At 154 pounds, legendary fights such as against Trinidad never happened and Oscar de la Hoya purposely ducked him. Wright would travel to your hometown and kick your ass in front of your hometown fans. All of these attributes add up to Winky being the fourth greatest Super Welterweight of all time.
If you want to hear more about Winky, check out my podcast.