A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
It’s Unanimous: Wright Decisions Trinidad
Wright (left) dominated Trinidad Saturday night in Las Vegas
NEW YORK— Ronald “Winky” Wright risked being stripped of his world junior middleweight title belts for an opportunity to fight one of the most talented and well-recognized fighters in the world.
Wright (49-3, 25 KOs) won the biggest fight of his career by pounding out a 12-round unanimous decision against former three division champion and future Hall of Fame fighter, Felix Trinidad (42-2, 35 KOs) on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Wright was always one of the rarest pure boxers in the sport, but his victory against Trinidad will allow him to be one of the most recognizable fighters in boxing today. Wright will appear to be more of a marquee fighter because Trinidad is one of the most widely recognizable fighters in the world.
Every achievement that Wright has earned throughout his career will be more noted because, there is more of a need to know who Wright is. Why? That’s because he beat Trinidad, who Don King labeled for years as “the pride of Puerto Rico.”
Trinidad is the only boxer to have defeated three consecutive U.S. Olympic gold medalists, Pernell Whitaker (1988), Oscar De La Hoya (1992), and David Reid (1996). He’s won world championships as a welterweight (147), Junior middleweight (154), and middleweight (160) while posting a 83% career-victory knockout percentage.
Trinidad’s only loss was to undisputed world middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in Sept. 2001. Hopkins has not lost a fight in more than one decade.
Although Wright’s victory would appear to be a surprise it is definitely no upset.
Trinidad’s victory against De La Hoya in September 1999 was one of the most controversial welterweight title fights in boxing history. De La Hoya out-jabbed and out-boxed Trinidad through the first eight rounds of the fight.
Assuming he had the fight won, De La Hoya avoided any physical contact from a rallying Trinidad during the final four rounds. Trinidad won a disputed majority 12-round decision.
De La Hoya’s performance exposed Trinidad’s limitations as a fighter and proved to be the same blueprint that Hopkins and now Wright used to defeat Trinidad.
Against De La Hoya, Trinidad did not know how to cut the ring off and press his opponent against the ropes. Meaning, Trinidad, in a 12 round fight will chase, but cannot hurt you unless a fighter is standing in front of him. The difference between De La Hoya, Hopkins and Wright is De La Hoya did not punctuate his performance.
Hopkins was stronger than Trinidad and was able to knock him out in the final round. Wright, not as strong as Trinidad, used his speed and quickness to in a decision.
Trinidad also has bad footwork; he does not have a powerful left jab and does not move around the ring well. Trinidad is most effective when his opponents stand in front of him. Trinidad’s strength comes from his planting his feet firmly on the mat and landing barrages of hooks to his opponents head.
Wright is no Hopkins or a De La Hoya. But Wright is a solid boxer, who happens to be a southpaw (left-handed). Wright has a style that is different from a right-handed fighter’s. When fighting a southpaw, a right-handed fighter is easier to get hit with right jabs.
Against Wright, Trinidad was hit with 185 of Wright’s right-handed jabs. Trinidad was ineffective, as Wright surprisingly controlled the tempo of the contest and kept Trinidad at a distance by just jabbing. Trinidad himself landed just 15 jabs (less than 2 per round).
Wright protected himself well keeping his glove very close to his face and countering with right jabs and straight lefts. Wright was quicker than Trinidad, who appeared puzzled as ton what to do inside the ring against a moving, hard-to-hit, boxer/counter puncher.
Wright also had a 77-43 edge in power punches landed (any punch that is not a jab).
Trinidad was docked a point in the ninth round after several warnings for low-blows. The point deduction had zero impact on the judges’ scorecards as Wright won by margins of 120-107, and 119-108 (twice).
Wright’s Gamble Pays Off
Trinidad’s loss to Wright does not spell the end of his career, but rather changes the course of his immediate future. Trinidad was hoping to negotiate a rematch against the first and only fighter to have knocked him out, Hopkins.
Even if Hopkins would lose his middleweight championships to Jermain Taylor on July 16, Trinidad-Hopkins would still have been an appealing fight, especially if Trinidad were to become the No. 1-ranked contender had he defeated Wright.
Instead, Wright beat Trinidad in a lopsided fight to earn the right to challenge for the world middleweight title regardless of what happens in July between Hopkins and Taylor.
Wright, who also signed a rematch clause to fight Trinidad, could enforce his rematch option the same way he did when he fought Shane Mosley a second time last year. Wright had a more difficult time out-pointing Mosley in the rematch, but the results were still the same – another 12-round victory.
When Ronald Wright defeated Shane Mosley in the first of two decision victories in 2004, he became the undisputed world junior middleweight champion.
However, in an attempt to fight the best available fighters, Wright vacated the WBA, WBC, and IBF 154-pound titles to earn a second victory against Mosley and a career-high, $4 million payday to beat Trinidad, who earned $10 million.
Wright’s trade-in for his three junior middleweight titles for three career-high purses in three career defining fights against Mosley and Trinidad appeared to be a very good deal. The results: Wright is in the best position of his career.
Not only he’s the wealthiest he’s ever been, but he’s also stole Trinidad’s spot of being the No. 1-ranked middleweight contender and could possibly challenge Bernard Hopkins this Fall in a very intriguing fight between the only two men to have defeated Trinidad.
Judah Retains Welterweight Titles
Undisputed world welterweight champ, Zab Judah (34-2, 25 KOs) retained the WBC, WBA, and IBF 147-pound championships with a third-round TKO of Cosme Rivera (28-8-2, 20 KOs) on the Wright-Trinidad undercard. Judah’s blazing hand speed was too much for the challenger, as the fight was stopped at the 2:11 mark.
Judah could meet Mosley, De La Hoya, or have a rematch against world junior welterweight champion, Kostya Tszyu in his next fight. In Nov. 2001, Tszyu became the undisputed world junior welterweight champion when he knocked out Judah with a single punch in round two.
Considering Judah was successfully rebuilt his career by taking Cory Spinks’ undisputed welterweight title-belts by knockout, a rematch with Tszyu is likely if Tszyu decides to move up to the welterweight class.