As I hyped recently Jermain Taylor vs. Ronald “Winky” Wright turned out to be a great fight and at least a solid candidate for Fight of the Year 2006. Taylor retained his WBO, WBA & WBC Middleweight Titles by fighting Wright to a drawn in Memphis, TN last night on HBO. Going into this fight a lot of people thought it was going to be a slow moving defensive battle based on the fact that Taylor looks for power shots while relying on his jab and Wright solely relies on his defense and wearing down opponents. This fight could not have proved more different as it was an offensive battle from the first bell until the end of the 11th (Not 12th round, see below). A few pre-fight notes:
HBO put out good pieces on both fighters starting with Taylor. The angle on Taylor was that he is a raw talent who has won fights based on his stamina, power and confidence while lacking footwork, defense and experience. He won his two wars with Hopkins based on his stamina, fast start and his style being rewarded over Hopkins awkward delivery. Taylor did the unthinkable 6 weeks ago (May 1st) by changing trainers as he opted to go with the legendary Emanuel Steward and his even more legendary Kronk Gym which is a breeding ground for champions (Hearns, Lewis, De La Hoya, Chavez, etc.). This switch is a great career path for Taylor but very dangerous this close to a major fight. Steward is known for being able to get the most out of his fighters and also improving them without changing them. He is a great ring general who can pick apart strategies during a fight and is cool under pressure. Steward took over Lennox Lewis when he was a highly skilled, light punching contender and made him a complete boxer and undisputed champion. The other angle on this fight is that Taylor is a big middleweight at 6’1″ and 160lbs.
The angle on Winky is his longstanding (20 year) relationship with his trainer, Dan Birmingham. It showed how they could not get good fights in the US 10 years ago as Winky is a defensive fighter and therefore not a promoter favorite so they went to Europe where he gained a huge following as well as a wealth of experience in the ring (50+ fights). The fights that put him on the map were his dismantling of both Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley. The rest of his story reviewed his defensive prowess and how he is considered to be one of the best defensive fighters ever. It is also worth nothing that his last 6 fights have gone the distance and he only has 1 KO in the last 12 fights which clearly gives away his style and possible lack of power. The last side note is that he entered the ring tonight with a full business suit on including tie and cuff links, I guess he means business.
Tale of the Tape
- Record–25-0 (17 KO)
- Nickname–Bad Intentions
- Hometown –Little Rock, AR (Tonight’s fight is almost a homecoming)
- DOB–8-11-78 (27)
- Weight–160 Weigh In (unofficial, 170)
- Trainer–Emanuel Steward
- Big Time Wins–William Joppy (04) & Bernard Hopkins (Twice in 05)
Ronald Lamont Wright
- Record–50-3 (25 KO)
- Hometown–St. Petersburg, FL
- DOB–11-26-71 (34)
- Height–5′ 10 1/2″
- Weight–159 Weigh In (unofficial 166)
- Trainer–Dan Birmingham
- Big Time Wins–Shane Mosley (Twice in 04) & Felix Trinidad (05)
Round by Round
- Rd. 1–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Winky seems to be willing to fight/brawl as opposed to his usual style. Taylor seems a ton stronger than Winky.
- Rd. 2–Taylor 9, Winky 10–Taylor seems very calm out there and looks like a Steward fighter due to this (Very similar to Lennox Lewis). Taylor though is holding his hands way to low and Winky is making him pay with his right jab a lot. Taylor is looking too much for his one big shot with an overhand right and that seems improbable against Winky.
- Rd. 3–Taylor 10, Winky 9–This might prove to be a style vs. style fight as Taylor is more active especially with power punches but Winky is far more accurate and his defense is very good. Taylor seems content to hit Winky anywhere (arms, elbows) in the hopes of wearing him down.
- Rd. 4–Taylor 10, Winky 9–This is a very offensive minded fight so far even with Winky playing peek-a-boo behind his gloves. Much faster pace than anyone would have expected. Winky is controlling where Taylor is too much if Jermain hopes to win. Winky has some great footwork and always looks balanced.
- Rd. 5–Taylor 9, Winky 10–Taylor’s hands are way, way too low as his left eye is starting to swell and he might not be hurt but this is going to be a problem. Winky though is a little over-confident in his corner as he and his trainer believe they have won every round (I disagree).
- Rd. 6–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Winky took this round off.
- Rd. 7–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Taylor landed too many power shots for Winky to have won this round. A few accidental head-butts seem to occur mainly due to their styles.
- Rd. 8–Taylor 9, Winky 10–Winky is so much better when they are fighting in the corners or on the ropes. His footwork and experience make Taylor look a little like an amateur at times. However, I think Winky is still too overconfident as I have this pretty close to a draw right now and even favoring Taylor.
- Rd. 9–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Taylor’s left eye is starting to get worse and he might not be able to see out of it at this point. Winky is too cautious this round as he seems a little nervous about Taylor’s right hook which he should be.
- Rd. 10–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Winky is too inactive for me to score it for him. Taylor continues to land rights and dominates whenever they are fighting in the middle of the ring. Steward will need to work with Taylor on his footwork as this seems to be his biggest weakness (And maybe only) right now.
- Rd. 11–Taylor 9, Winky 10–Winky has a strong round and could win this fight with a good 12th. He seems to think he is far ahead though which I cannot imagine. His trainer makes it clear to him that he needs to win the 12th as he might sense now (A little late) that this is closer than what he said earlier.
- Rd. 12–Taylor 10, Winky 9–Winky chooses to dance and not fight. Taylor does not do too much but enough to look active and willing to fight.
I have it scored Taylor 116, Winky 111. I think Winky took off far too may rounds being the challenger (maybe he forgot he was?) and champions do not lose fights like this. Taylor showed he can breakdown Winkys defense and that earns him a lot of respect in my book
The judges score it as 115-113 Taylor, 115-113 Winky & 114-114. A draw. Winky seems shocked as hell and just leaves the ring while Taylor seems confident but relieved as he knows he held on barely. In the end Winky is pissy and says he won but you need to fight all 12 rounds and he did not while Taylor did. I think Taylor is on his way up and I think Winky is starting a slow descent (He still will be great for another 2-3 years). I can see a rematch coming although Winky says no way as this fight was very entertaining & offensive minded and highly skilled overall. I think the future though is Taylor vs. Mayweather Jr. as they should be on a collision course due to their relative age and talents.
Again, nice to see a non-PPV fight on HBO tonight and keep an eye out for these upcoming fights–
Saturday, June 24th HBO–Heavyweights Calvin Brock (28-0, 22 KO) vs. Timur Ibragimov (21-0-1, 13 KO) and Welterweights Joel Julio (27-0, 24 KO) vs. Carlos Quintana (22-0, 18 KO). I have not seen him but this Joel Julio is considered the guy to watch.
Saturday, July 15th HBO PPV–Jr. Middleweights Sugar Shane Mosley (42-4, 36 KO, 1 NC) vs. Ferocious Fernando Vargas (26-3, 22 KO). This rematch should be a battle as Mosley is known for fighting anyone anytime and Vargas is a straight out brawler. Their first fight was brutal and Vargas thinks he lost due to an accidental head butt which agitated his already bruised eye (see below). I disagree and think Mosley will win and put himself back in position to fight for a title again.