Wright ready on home turf; still wants 'Contender' rival

Originally Published: January 9, 2007
By Joe Tessitore | Special to ESPN.com

Walter Wright thinks of his life as pretty boring. At least in terms of the way he goes about it.

Walter Wright
Wright

A piece of advice for Walter: If you really want to know boring, go sit in a office cubicle for a while. Wright is hardly boring. Diverse, opinionated, thoughtful, unique? Yes! Boring? No.

He's a God-fearing man who thinks there are too many religious hypocrites in the world. He's a father who enjoys watching "The Fairly OddParents" and "Codename: Kids Next Door." Like the characters in the latter, Wright has a code name. But his wouldn't be found on any kiddie show. For the better part of his nearly four-year career, Wright's nickname has been "2 Guns." And he has fired them off as a pro fighter with moderate success and even more fame.

At 25, Walter Wright (12-2, 6 KOs) has graduated from "The Contender" reality show to mainstream boxing reality. This week he will try to take a step toward his next goal when he faces Dan Wallace (8-0, 3 KOs) on "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET). Wallace is unbeaten yet untested in his eight pro fights. Wright has been beaten and tested.

"I want K9 again. 'The Contender' people say we are on the same team now. I don't care, promotional stablemates can fight each other."
Walter Wright, who lost to Cornelius "K9" Bundrage on "The Contender"

"I'm a lot smarter now than when I was on 'The Contender.' I've learned the game more. I'm stronger now," Wright said. "I've learned more of the tricks. Not many in this game have a jab. That's what I will be known for."

Just being known has been the biggest change. Wright played a major role in this past season of "The Contender." His on-air rivalry with Cornelius "K9" Bundrage was one of the central themes of the show.

Cornelius Bundradge
Bundrage

"My biggest problem with K9 was him fronting about being a religious guy," Wright said without hesitation. "I told him, 'One minute you're acting like a Christian and the next you are acting like a ghetto cat. Which one are you?' "

Bundrage, who survived an inner-city Detroit upbringing, would prove what he was in the quarterfinals. He was a winner. K9 earned an upset victory over Wright in a very ugly and somewhat controversial decision.

"K9 and I are cool. There's no bad blood between us. He called me afterward and said you're a good guy and good fighter. I respect that."

What rankles Wright is that K9 is headlining the "Friday Night Fights" main event in Wright's own backyard at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash. Wright was thrilled with the news that "The Contender" card was coming to the Seattle area, but he has been puzzled as to why he didn't land the spotlight in his own hometown.

Walter Wright
Al Bello/Getty ImagesWalter Wright, right, scored a fourth-round TKO over Vinroy Barrett on the undercard of "The Contender" Season Two finale on Sept. 26 in Los Angeles.

"I walk into stores now and get recognized. Little girls and older people, all types say, 'Hey, you're the fighter from that show,' " Wright said, before adding, "I don't know what K9 being on this card is all about. I don't know if they are trying to build up our rematch or if they are putting this in my face. They didn't answer me."

Conspiracy theories aside, it's pretty easy to see what "The Contender" folks are doing with their main event this week. They are putting the best fight forward. Bundrage versus veteran title-chasing pro Chris Smith is the better fight and is a very intriguing FNF feature.

Clearly, the promoters would have had Walter in the main event if he were taking on a more recognizable and established opponent. If everything goes according to Wright's plan, K9 will be in another Seattle-area main event, this time in a rematch.

"I want K9 again. 'The Contender' people say we are on the same team now. I don't care, promotional stablemates can fight each other," Wright said.

For now, that promotional stable is nurturing Wright. His elevated status in the fight game allows him to be a full-time boxer and concentrate on being the best, something the pro boxer learned from a pro wrestler.

"I was inspired by the Kurt Angle book. His theory is that if you're going to be great, whatever that you are great at takes all of your time."

I welcome you to tune in to see the cartoon-watching, hard-punching, scripture-reading, conspiracy-theorizing, rasslin'-inspired, somewhat famous Walter Wright. One thing is for sure -- you'll enjoy him.

Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."

Joe Tessitore has been the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" and "Wednesday Night Fights" since 2002 and contributes a weekly boxing column to ESPN.com.

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