When it comes to talented but unexciting boxers the defensive mastery of Ronald “Winky” Wright is often a fighter that is mentioned. The highly regarded “Winky” has never managed to become the major money warrior he seems to feel he was deserving of being yet was, for the best part of the last decade, one of the elite boxers consistently in the top pound for pound lists. Winky would turn pro in the 1990 following a successful amateur career that boasted 52 wins and just 4 losses he would prove to be a talented and tricky fighter who would be difficult to beat and almost impossible to look good against.
After turning professional in 1990 and fighting out of Florida for the first few years he failed to capture the attention of major promoters and instead of inking a big money deal he was forced to go on the road. As a result of being forced onto the road Winky spent much of the 1990’s fighting throughout the world, most notably in France where, in 1994 he fought his first world title fight. It was in that fight, in which he faced the WBA World light middleweight champion Julio Cesar Vasquez that Winky would suffer his first career loss after 25 straight wins. It was obvious by then that Winky was talented but lacked that X-factor of fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson or Roy Jones.
Whilst still fighting mainly in Europe Wright would soon pick up his first honours as a professional, the vacant NABF light middleweight title a title he would defend in both France and the US as he slowly gained some recognition amongst the alphabet organisations. It was the WBO who would off Winky his second chance, when he was given a fight against Bronco McKart for the WBO Light Middleweight title. This time Winky had matured, he was no longer the 22 year old boy Vasquez had beaten but a 24 year old man who had managed to take the title from McKart on a split decision. After defending the title 3 times in England Winky would eventually lose it in South Africa to the under-rated Harry Simon from Namibia by close decision.
Winky would bounce back well from his second defeat by beating Derrick Graham in an IBF title eliminator before losing the subsequent title fight to Fernando Vargas. This would be his 3rd loss, and his final one for almost 8 years as he fought and beat a who’s who of boxing royalty in the 00’s. A second win over McKart saw Winky winning 2 fringe titles (the NABF and USBA light middleweight title) before quickly picking up the IBF title that had become vacant when Felix Trinidad moved to middleweight (Trinidad had taken the belt from Vargas).
Winky would defend the IBF title 4 times before really getting a chance to make a real statement to the boxing world by unifying his title with the WBC and WBA titles by out pointing “Sugar” Shane Mosley. Although he was stripped by the IBF for immediately rematching Mosley it was a large money fight and helped to prove that the first win wasn’t a fluke. Following the 2 impressive victories over Mosley Winky would start campaigning at middleweight and score a near shut out of the heavy punching Felix Trinidad. The victory forced Trinidad into retirement soon afterwards and elevated Winky to the top of the WBC’s Middleweight rankings. He solidified his middleweight rankings with a decision victory over Australian Sam Soliman before taking on the middleweight champion Jermain Taylor.
Taylor was the WBO and WBC champion as well as the man who was generally regarded as the #1 man having beaten the great Bernard Hopkins twice. Although Taylor looked to have slipped since his fights with Hopkins he was the favourite and yet Winky put on an impressive showing and was unlucky not to get the decision. The generally defence first Winky of old was gone and he had shown an impressive and exciting showing against Taylor despite only scoring a draw. Though there was talk of a rematch it never came to fruition and instead Winky would face Ike Quartey 6 months later, scoring the 51st win of his long and illustrious career. This would turn out to be the final fight of Quartey’s career, and looks likely to be the final win of Winky’s career.
Since beating Quartey in 2006 Winky has suffered back to back losses (the only time this has happened in his career), first he was out pointed by Bernard Hopkins in 2007 then in 2009 he was dominated by Paul Williams. It was against Williams that Winky looked an old man, too slow for the taller, faster and longer Williams it was an embarrassing night for a fighter who at 38 an with a record of 51-5-1 looked as if he should hang them up.
Although Winky is likely to be remembered for his notable wins, those who saw him will likely remember his style of fighting which saw him holding a very tight guard with gloves that looked overly big and protected his face and much of his body. Often jokingly referred to as “pillows” by boxing fans those same gloves that were used as a shield likely contributed to Winky’s lack of KO punch that saw him scoring just 25KO’s in 57 fights.
Almost certainly a shoe-in for the Hall Of Fame Ronald “Winky”Wright really should be remembered as a fighter who never really got the respect that he deserved as a fighter.