Ronald “Winky” Wright was one of the more unheralded and under-appreciated fighters of the junior middleweight division for most of his professional career. However, late in his career, and on one specific night 15 years ago, his utter dominance of another great fighter cemented his legacy once and for all.
The date was May 14th, 2005 as Wright stepped through the ropes at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, to face former longtime world welterweight champion is Felix “Tito” Trinidad in a scheduled 12-round non-title, middleweight belt.
Trinidad was the much more known worldwide fighter after having become world champ at 147 lbs. in 1993 and then, going on to also win World junior middleweight and a portion of the middleweight championships, as well. He beat the likes of Hector Camacho, Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya, and accumulated a record of 39 – 0 to that point of his career.
Back to “the Wink,” As an up-and-coming contender based out of St Pete, Florida, Wright could not get a fight promoter in the United States to even pay attention to him with his mostly defensive style and instead, he signed on to fight mostly in France throughout the early-mid 1990s.
He suffered his first pro loss in his 26th fight, when Julio Cesar Vasquez scored a lopsided unanimous decision over him for the WBA 154 lb. belt, However, Wright rebounded to win the next eight fights of his career and eventually captured his first world title winning the WBO Junior middleweight Championship with a 12-round decision over Bronco McCart in May of 1996.
Wright made three successful title defenses before Harry Simon dethroned him by decision in August of 1998.
“Winky” then stepped onto a larger stage fighting Fernando Vargas in an HBO Main Event showdown for the IBF 154 lb. title in December of 1999. Most observers felt he won a decision over Vargas, yet the former US Olympian got his hand raised to retain championship.
Undaunted, Wright put together another win streak of seven more fights and then, upset “Sugar Shane” Mosley with a masterful boxing performance in March of 2004 for the WBC, WBA and IBF Junior Middleweight unified Championship. He, later validated his 12-round upset 8 months later by beating Mosley again by decision. Thus, establishing him a known commodity in the biggest boxing circles.
And, those wins over Mosely led to the showdown with the Puerto Rican Superstar Trinidad.
HBO Pay per view televised what was supposed to be a “Tito” victory, but he didn’t learn very much from what Wright had done to Moseley with his tremendous right jab and straight left behind it. And, the excellent defensive tactics of Wright keeping his gloves high and his elbows in making him difficult to hit, befuddled Trinidad the whole night.
From the outset, Winky dominated the action scoring first repeatedly with the jab and scoring crisp combinations. Trinidad was never able to set up his trademark bomb right hand that had scored him so many easy knockout throughout his championship reigns.
As the fight wore on, it was obvious that Wright was in control and Trinidad could not figure out his defense to penetrate it. Winky continued to outland Trinidad, at times three to one in some of the rounds. And Wright amassed an insurmountable lead heading into the final stage of the fight.
Final punch stat numbers had Wright out landing Trinidad by a whopping 262-58 in total punches. More than half of Wright’s connections were his potent jabs.
He rocked Trinidad with a solid right uppercut and a left behind it for his best combo of the night, but Trinidad was able to grab onto Wright, shake the cobwebs and not go down. Still, Winky Wright dominated virtually every round of the fight taking a lopsided unanimous decision by 119-108 on two scorecards and 120-107 on the third card.
As a side note, a longtime friend of mine happened to be on business in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the night of this showdown in 2005. And, thousands and thousands of Puerto Rican fight fans had jammed the town square to watch Trinidad on a massive TV from thousands of miles away.
However, as Winky dominated, they grew more and more disheartened and Trinidad couldn’t land a significant punch against him.
The friend relayed then that by the 10th round or so, most of the people had left the square and the ones that were staying, we’re no longer waving their Puerto Rican flags or screaming anything at the TV. Rather, they were instead they were standing almost in stunned silence.
That was Wright’s trademark, dominating with jabs, punches behind it and solid defense. and the Trinidad win was arguably his masterpiece.
Wright went on to fight six more times in his career, including coming out of a three-year retirement to fight Peter Quinlan in 2012 and lost his last fight by decision.
Wright finished 51 – 6 – 1 and was inducted into the international Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017.
Trinidad ended his career at 42 – 3 after Roy Jones, Jr. beat him in his final fight in 2008 and he went into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
But, as great as “Tito” was, especially at big punches, he had no answers 15 years ago on a night in the Vegas desert for fellow Hall of Famer, “Winky” Wright.