A Draw: Taylor Retains Middleweight Championship In A Close Fight

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 19, 2006

Challenger Winky Wright, right, battles middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in the second round of their boxing match on Saturday

Challenger Winky Wright, right, battles middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in the second round of their boxing match on Saturday

NEW YORK — Winky Wright’s bid to capture the world middleweight championship from undefeated Jermain Taylor on Saturday at FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN. ended in a draw.

It was Taylor’s second defense of the world 160-pound championship when he earned the first of two consecutive victories against Bernard Hopkins last year.

Wright (50-3-1, 25 KOs) believed that he was robbed of a victory against Taylor (25-0-1, 17 KOs). Granted it was a close fight which was less than 140 miles away from the 27-year-old Taylor’s hometown of Little Rock., Arkansas.

However, Wright, 34, St. Petersburg, FL, was ahead 105-104 on two of the three judges’ scorecards after the eleventh round.

In the final round, Wright boxed and showed a lot of movement instead of pressing the action like he did earlier in the fight. In fact, Wright did not punctuate the round by attacking the champion with flurries.

Wright’s decision to not press the action cost him the world championship. Two of the three judges scored the twelfth round 10-9 for Taylor. Overall, one judge scored the bout 115-113 for Taylor.

A second judge scored the bout 115-113 for Wright, but the final scorecard read 114-114 for a split draw.

“He hit me but I always came back with something,” Taylor said afterward. “He came forward but not with any power. After he got through doing his thing I came back. He’s got a great jab. He throws punches in bunches, but if you want to be the champ you have to fight 12 rounds. I thought the fight could have gone either way,”

Taylor-Wright was indeed a close fight. That should not have surprised anyone, considering Wright’s experience against world class opposition.

Wright is a southpaw (left-handed) fighter. His biggest weapon is his right-jab which made Felix Trinidad look like an amateur when they fought in May 2005.

Wright’s jab was the powerful force that led to become the undisputed world junior middleweight champion prior to his repeat victory against Sugar Shane Mosley in 2004.

Wright has not lost a fight since his controversial decision loss to Fernando Vargas in a bid to win a junior middleweight championship in 1999.

Wright has fought all over the world in Germany, England, and South Africa, as well as the United States against fighters with various styles. Taylor did not show Wright anything that he hasn’t seen throughout his 16 years in the professional boxing business.

Taylor and his promoter Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment hired the services of Emmauel Steward. Taylor trained with Steward at the famous Kronk boxing gym.

Steward, who worked with world champions Lennox Lewis and Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, works with fighters on conditioning and knockout power. Taylor’s punches were harder than Wright’s and appeared to be in better conditioning.

One difference between Wright and Taylor (aside from the fact that one fighter is left-handed) is that Taylor has faster reflexes and appeared to be stronger than Wright. According to Steward, Taylor showed plenty of championship heart in his performance against Wright.

“Jermain did so many things wrong tonight and still kept his championship,” Steward said. “When Winky came on, Jermain came back strong and moved Winky with his punches.”

The fight was close in the early rounds, but Wright did have moments in which he appeared to be the superior boxer. Wright, naturally a 154-pound fighter, was able to trap Taylor against the ropes to unload with right-jabs, straight lefts, and hooks.

Unlike Trinidad, Taylor did not look to land juts one big shot to end the fight. Unlike Mosley, Taylor did not throw flurries just to keep Wright off. Instead, Taylor used his improved arsenal of hooks and uppercuts from different angles.

The biggest knock against Taylor was the fact that he did not throw his jab enough when Wright pressed forward throwing punches. Taylor spent too much time fighting backward and not pressing the action.

There were moments in each round when Wright unloaded with punches when Taylor was against the ropes. Taylor controlled much of the fight when both men fought in the middle of the ring.

Although Taylor’s left eye was almost swollen shut in the tenth round, Taylor’s quick hands kept Wright off balance in the later rounds. Wright’s face appeared to look puffy above both eyes. There were no knockdowns or standing eight counts. It was a every evenly-matched encounter.

Is anyone interested in Taylor-Wright II?