Paul Williams-Winky Wright bout cheap for Vegas standards
A $50 ticket and a room for less than $160 at the host hotel in Las Vegas is an indicator of how seriously the economy has slumped, but boxing fans still employed may be tempted to leap at the April 11 non-title 160-pound fight between world welterweight champion Paul Williams (top video) and former super-welterweight champ Winky Wright (lower video) at Mandalay Bay.
Williams (36-1, 27 knockouts) is fighting at 160 only 10 months after regaining his WBO welterweight crown with a revenge, first-round knockout of Carlos Quintana. He claims to be willing to fight any name fighter between 147 and 168 pounds, targeting middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, welterweight champ Shane Mosley or retired super-middleweight champ Joe Calzaghe if he defeats Wright.
Vegas has established Williams as a minus-160 favorite.
He's 10 years younger than Wright, and is expected to unleash an offensive onslaught on Wright, 37, who hasn't fought since losing a unanimous decision to Bernard Hopkins in July 2007.
"I wish I'd fought more, but it is what it is," said Wright, who along with his promoter Richard Schaefer tried to correct the image that Wright is a stubborn negotiator.
Schaefer said HBO presented him a list of six fighters it wanted to pit against Wright, and all six, including Pavlik, Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham, failed to come to terms.
"Winky was willing to fight Pavlik in Youngstown, was willing to fight all these guys ... anywhere in the world," Schaefer said, adding the possible foes balked because "they were scared of Winky Wright."
Added Wright: "I've wanted to fight the best. The best don't want to fight me."
Wright's defensive style also has made for boring fights. "I don't go for the knockout. Boxing's an art, a skill. ... I'm not just a defensive fighter, though. I can punch. I can jab. I can do it all. I've hurt people. It'll be nice to see my talent versus [Williams'] talent."
Williams, who similarly had a difficult time trying to land a fight with Mosley or a rematch with the now-suspended Antonio Margarito, accepted the Wright offer and would most likely be poised to fight Pavlik later this year, although his promoter Dan Goossen was trying to convince Schaefer to make Hopkins available for a fight at 168 pounds.
"What do you say?" Goossen asked Schaefer. Said Schaefer: "I'm not saying anything."
-- Lance Pugmire