Wright's victory spoils 'Tito's' plans with Hopkins
Winky Wright unleashed his jab at will; Felix Trinidad could not match the fury. Thus, Wright dominated their middleweight showdown Saturday in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS -- Total domination.
Winky Wright fought the way Secretariat ran the Belmont Stakes. Like the 49ers drubbed the Broncos 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV. Like the 1927 Yankees.
Wright, the junior middleweight champ who moved up to middleweight for the mega fight he had always craved, turned Felix Trinidad into a human bobble head doll. Wright drilled him with stiff right jabs for 12 rounds.
The result was one of the most lopsided decisions in a major fight in recent history Saturday night before 14,176 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Wright pitched a near shutout, winning by scores of 120-107 and 119-108 (twice), in an elimination fight to become the mandatory challenger for undisputed champion Bernard Hopkins. ESPN.com also had it 120-107.
"Any fighter who beats me has to be one of the best in the world. He is one of the best," Trinidad said. "He had a difficult style and he had a very stiff jab."
Trinidad was helpless, befuddled and outclassed, landing only 58 of 557 blows (10 percent), according to CompuBox statistics. Trinidad landed single digits in every round and only connected on 15 jabs.
Wright's jab was the key. Round after round, Wright (49-3), a southpaw, fired it non-stop like a piston, repeatedly snapping Trinidad's head back. He mixed in some solid body shots and left to keep Trinidad honest, and in the end landed 262 of 756 punches (35 percent), but 588 were jabs, 185 of which connected.
"That was the game plan and I executed it perfectly," Wright said. "It was a complete victory. I told you all a long time ago they were running from me. All the critics, you must hush and give me my praise."
Said Trinidad: "He had a beautiful jab and it reached me a lot."
HBO will replay the fight next Saturday night at 9:45 ET, along with the live Lamon Brewster-Andrew Golota heavyweight bout.
Wright spent most of his career globe trotting looking for recognition, money and important fights. But it was not until Shane Mosley agreed to fight him last year that he gained wide acclaim as a pound-for-pound caliber fighter. He outpointed Mosley to unify the 154-pound division and then beat him again in the rematch.
|“||I came in the best condition ever but I couldn't land any power punches. We'll see what happens (regarding retirement). I'm still young and strong. ”|
|— Felix Trinidad after his loss to Winky Wright|
"I had to keep proving myself over and over in my career. I am doing the best I can," Wright said. "He underestimated me a bit maybe because of the weight gain. I hit him with great shots in the face. He has a great hook and I kept my eye on it the whole fight."
Trinidad (42-2), who had come out of a 29-month retirement last October to knock out Ricardo Mayorga in impressive fashion, accepted Wright's challenge when he could not land a rematch with Hopkins. Hopkins had knocked him out in a 2001 unification fight.
Perhaps he should have passed on Wright, the slick, left-hander with outstanding defensive skills and that rugged jab, and waited for Hopkins.
But Trinidad, who lost a point for a low blow in the ninth round, has always faced the best throughout his career and had no regrets about taking on Wright.
"I came in the best condition ever but I couldn't land any power punches," Trinidad said. "We'll see what happens [regarding retirement]. I'm still young and strong. I'll talk to my father [trainer Felix Trinidad Sr.] and promoter [Don King] to see what I will do. I love challenges."
There is a rematch clause in the contract but after such a one-sided fight, it's hard to see it as economically viable, especially after Trinidad earned $10 million and Wright $4 million.
Wright, however, seemed open to it.
"I would love a rematch," Wright said. "I think he will be better prepared next time and I don't think he will underestimate me."
And when asked if he wanted the Hopkins-Taylor winner, Wright smiled, and said, "Hell, yes."
He was feeling good.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.