At 40 years of age, Ronald “Winky” Wright knows he doesn’t have anything left to prove in the boxing ring.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an injustice he’s been wanting to correct for some time.
“I could have been the first undisputed junior middleweight champion and undisputed middleweight champion. But they robbed me of that,” Wright told RingTV.com, referring to a hotly debated draw with then-middleweight champion Jermain Taylor.
So after three years of inactivity, the crafty southpaw returns to the squared circle on Saturday, and will face a legitimate 160-pound contender in Peter Quillin as part of a four-fight card presented by Showtime.
Fittingly, sitting ringside for the telecast will be Chuck Giampa, the now-television analyst who just happened to be the one judge scoring Wright’s middleweight title attempt115-113 for Taylor.
“He watched that fight. They clearly know I beat Jermain, no doubt about that,” said Wright (51-5-1, 25 knockouts).
While fans continue to debate the proper outcome of that bout to this day, most are unanimous in their skepticism toward Wright’s comeback.
In his last outing, he was overwhelmed by the volume-punching of Paul Williams in an HBO-televised feature, and before that, clearly lost a decision to Bernard Hopkins, a bout contested for the RING light heavyweight title. In truth, some even questioned if his slickness had begun to fade one fight prior to that, an exciting unanimous decision victory over Ike Quartey in 2006.
Wright might not agree with that sentiment, but he’s willing to find out the truth one way or another.
“I know that once we beat Quillin, we want a championship. We don’t want to be out here taking easy fights and all that, nah. I’m gonna beat a good kid and let the world know I’m back,” said Wright, who claims he rejected opportunities to take tune-up fights. “If I can’t do it at a high level, then I don’t need to do it. I’m not out here fighting to just be fighting.”
During his time away from the ring, the St. Petersburg, Fla. resident demonstrated that he can perform on a high level on the links, at the very least, captaining a team to victory the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament two months ago.
It’s those outside interests such as golf (where he has even begun managing professionals), music (operating a small record label) and, of course, family life that kept him quiet and patient during his lengthy layoff as he waited for the right opponent.
They’re also the reason he’s not afraid to step away altogether.
“A lot of people are alive, but they don’t know how to live,” said Wright. “Because boxing is a job that I do, that I love to do and I have fun at it. It enables me to do a lot of different things, but at the same time, there’s a life after boxing, and I’ve prepared for that life.”
If he doesn’t defeat Quillin (26-0, 20 KOs) over the weekend, Wright has told reporters that he will “definitely” consider retirement. Within five years of whenever he makes that decision, he will become eligible for the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where he will surely eventually land. It’s the place where any past wrongdoings or apprehensions are erased with a universal acknowledgement of greatness.
And in his opinion, he shouldn’t have to be patient for that to come to him.
“For a fighter that has done what I’ve done and not really have a promoter pushing me and giving me easy fights and all that, with a lot of top fighters ducking me my whole career, I definitely believe I’m a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” said Wright. “The major people I beat, I beat them at their prime, and if they’re going to the Hall, I definitely should be there.”
Photos / Scott Foster-Fightwireimages.com and Esther Lin-SHOWTIME
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