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At Last: Taylor Agrees To Meet Wright In Middleweight Showdown
By Francis Walker
Updated: February 13, 2006
NEW YORK — Representatives for both Ronald “Winky” Wright and Jermain Taylor have finally reached a deal that will allow both fighters to compete for the world middleweight championship. June 17 is the tentative date, but no venue has been officially announced.
Taylor’s promoter Lou DiBella and Wright’s promoter Gary Shaw, agreed to a 55-45 percent split of a purse of at least $6 million after more than a month of negotiations.
Had DiBella and Shaw been unable to agree on a deal, the WBC would have had a purse-bid that would have guaranteed the champion a 60-40 percent split of a purse much less than the original agreement.
“The World Boxing Council is very pleased that both promoters reached an agreement, as the fans deserve to watch fighting the best two middleweights of the world in this WBC mandatory defense,” WBC President Jose Sulaiman said in a statement.
Trinidad and Hopkins were the two most dominant boxers of the last during the past decade. That was until Taylor, a 2000 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist, realized his dream of winning the undisputed world middleweight championship by ending Bernard Hopkins’ remarkable 10-year title reign last summer. In the December rematch, Taylor again defeated Hopkins via a second unanimous twelve-round decision.
In 2005, Wright (50-3, 25 KOs) won two No. 1 contender elimination bouts for the opportunity to challenge Taylor (25-0, 17 KOs) for his WBC/WBA middleweight championships. Wright easily defeated Trinidad in a lop-sided encounter last May before out-boxing Sam Soliman through 12-rounds in December.
In the previous year, Wright earned two consecutive decision victories over Sugar Shane Mosley to become the undisputed world junior middleweight champion (154).
Wright-Taylor is the most compelling fight that can be made at 160. At 27, Taylor, the successor to Hopkins’ middleweight throne and arguably the future of the middleweight division, is young, undefeated, and is developing into a true prize fighter behind quick jabs and a powerful right hand.
Wright, at 34, is a southpaw who is very difficult to hit, but throws a lot of punches and has excellent boxing skills.
Wright has not lost a fight since his controversial majority decision loss to Fernando Vargas for the IBF junior middleweight title in December 1999. Wright has plenty of experience as he has fought throughout the globe in South Africa, France, Argentina, and of course the United States. Wright could be the favorite when he meets the explosive Taylor.
Taylor-Wright can will be seen on HBO World Championship Boxing telecast instead of HBO Pay Per View, which is a bonus for boxing. Fans do not have to cough-up $40 to $50 to see a quality fight worth watching. The last two years there was an increase in the number of boxing matches on Pay Per View, many of them should have been broadcast on television.
The sport is struggling, as it is very difficult to build a prospect from scratch toward a world championship without getting KO’d. Many of boxing’s elite fighters from Hopkins, Wladimir Klitschko, Chris Byrd, James Toney, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley rarely fight twice a year anymore.
In order to rebuild boxing’s popularity and loyal fan base, big-fights must return to network television.
Taylor-Wright on HBO is a positive step in that direction.