Winky vs. Tito: A better match-up than you might think
By Coyote Duran (March 26, 2005)  
Photo © Marty Rosengarten
Felix Trinidad has his work cut out for him.

On May 14, what appears to be a greater risk for Trinidad's opponent, World Junior Middleweight Champion Winky Wright, could very well be a sleeper setback for the Hall of Fame bound Boricua superstar. On paper, to many 'Tito-maniacs', this looks like the sure thing: Winky Wright representing one more rung up the ladder to domination of the middleweight classes. And a strong rung would Winky Wright make if he weren't so dead set against being stepped on.

In fact, if you ask Wright, he might even tell you that he considers the slugger from Cupey Alto his higher rung on his own ladder to greatness. To validate such a thought, consider the fact that Wright had Trinidad in his sights before he defeated the divisionally troubled Shane Mosley for a second time last November.

So what could drive a man to seek a challenge that most pugs would either excuse themselves away from or trash-talk their way toward when the original man in question fits neither template? Between big-time confidence, the possibilities of big money, big fights and scoring the credentials to someday make the trip to Canastota, it's a true 'pick-em' scenario. This isn't just some on-the-way-to-retirement fight where, win or lose, the payday's good and that's all she wrote. This is exactly the place Wright's been seeking for years. Back when he had to toil in Europe to stay busy to make a buck when no one else of prominence in the States wanted to risk his record fighting him. Back when he held two separate alphabet titles that no-one except Bronco McKart wanted any part of. Back when he kept-a-knocking on Oscar De La Hoya's front door only to have a 'Do not disturb' sign swiftly hung on the knob.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't some 'Sis boom bah, rah rah rah' commentary on the recently discovered merits of The Ring Magazine World Champion but merely an intro of sorts to a theory as to why Winky Wright has that proverbial 'snowball's chance in Hell' of beating 'El Gran Campeon Puertoriqueno'. This is not to say 'Tito' can't or won't knock the Hell out of Wright. That's a possibility that many of Trinidad's most rabid fans are banking on. Whether or not Trinidad pulls it off is entirely up to Wright.

Wright's variables for a successful shot at 'Tito' are plausible but not entirely bulletproof. Consider the most obvious being Wright's tricky southpaw style. The last time Trinidad faced a lefty was back when he ruled the welterweight division and disposed of Hugo Pineda via fourth round drubbing. Surely, a virtual lifetime ago but the possibility of a lack of familiarity still lingers. We all witnessed Shane Mosley come up short in two starts against Wright but like I mentioned before, 'Sugar' was 'divisionally troubled' at the time.

There's also Wright's style in general. A cat who smartly keeps the paws high while tucking his chin in tighter than a sleepy child on Christmas Eve does not a Mayorga make. I only hope Wright doesn't suffer from the temporary lapse of sanity he suffered from when he dropped his hands and tempted Mosley, Mayorga-style, in their second outing. And while Wright's not a Hopkins level fighter, Trinidad may still hear the echoes of his lone loss against the Pound-for-Pound king when alone with his thoughts. Trinidad's bandage on the psychological wound? His self-imposed exile. Walking away for two years allowed Trinidad to fall in love with the sport again. This could prove deadly for Wright who may just serve as an effigy of Hopkins for Trinidad to exact his vengeance upon.

Both men also possess similar means to achieve far different results. While 'Tito's' chin has seen its share of sudden impacts, he often risks such a weakness by bravely moving forward, knowing that his momentum does its own little part in ensuring his success. Wright also has a yen for the forward movement but as mentioned prior, he keeps a good shield. However, this shield's not entirely impenetrable when your quarry's expecting you to do the same in order to break you down on the inside like Trinidad is wisely accustomed to doing.

Does Winky Wright have a chance to defeat Felix Trinidad? If you're asking me, well then, absolutely. In fact, my pick is Wright by split decision. It'll be that close. It'll also be that good. Wright will make it that tough and Trinidad will make it that exciting. This is not to say that it won't be close enough for either man to prevail. But I do suspect that come the following Monday, post-fight, there's gonna be an awful lot of bitching from one side or the other for a rematch.
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