Hopkins & Winky: The timing just isn’t “Wright”

bernard hopkins04.04.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani In boxing, timing is everything. Whether it’s timing an opponent’s rhythm, timing a perfect punch, or carefully choosing an opponent at the proper time, timing is an essential part of boxing both inside and outside the ring. As such, I was most perplexed when rumors first surfaced regarding a potential match-up between pound-for-pound elites Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. Now that it appears this fight is about to become a reality, all I can ask is—WHY?

This is one fight that really makes no sense to me. Hopkins and Winky are both in the twilight of their respective boxing careers, and as such, I sincerely believe that each would be better off pursuing different avenues—especially Winky Wright. This is a lose-lose situation for Wright any way you slice it. If he loses, it may jeopardize some lucrative matches down the road; if he wins, he won’t get the proper credit he deserves because Hopkins will retroactively be labeled as a “shot” fighter.

What was Winky thinking when he signed on for this fight? Even if the money is right, it makes much more sense for Winky to pursue a rematch with Taylor. A win over Taylor would mean much more for his legacy than a win over Hopkins at present time. The timing truly is all wrong for this one—it’s awful!

At one point in time, I would have loved to have seen this fight. The perfect timing for this one would have been in mid-2005 after Winky annihilated Trinidad and Hopkins was slated to face Jermain Taylor. Back then, it would have been perceived as a battle between two pound-for-pound greats and would have drawn much attention as a chess-match between two of the best defensive fighters in the boxing business. But one thing happened to both of those fighters since that time which changes everything—Jermain Taylor.

When Hopkins lost back-to-back decisions to Taylor, it appeared the ageless wonder had finally reached the end of a long and illustrious career. He followed that up with his one-sided boxing exhibition against light-heavyweight king, Antonio Tarver. This appeared to be the perfect swan song for the aging pugilist. He had moved up two weight classes at the age of 41 and proceeded to dominate the division’s best. Making matters even sweeter, he humiliated the man who twice bested former rival, Roy Jones Junior.

That Hopkins decided to comeback isn’t that surprising for it’s hard to walk away after such a dominating performance. Additionally, Hopkins looked great at 175, which suggested that perhaps he would have best served his own interests by abandoning the middleweight boxing division a couple of years earlier. The thing of it is, at 175, Hopkins should be gunning for something that will further enhance his own legacy, and Winky isn’t the fighter that’s going to do that. Of course, one can’t blame Hopkins for Roy Jones Junior’s refusal to grant him a rematch, as that would have been the most logical route for Hopkins to take. Given that, he should probably aim for someone established in the 168-175 pound range—someone like Joe Calzaghe, for example.

Meanwhile, Winky had decided to make the move to 160 pounds to take on Taylor in an attempt to take the crown he took from Hopkins. (Incidentally, I thought Hopkins was the clear victor in his rematch with Taylor, but that’s neither here nor there). Winky fought as good of a fight as he could have fought that night, but in the end, he fell short as the bout was ruled a draw. Taylor and Winky still have unfinished business and were clearly the two best names in the middleweight boxing division. Common sense dictated that there needed to be a rematch between the two. Sadly, it appears that will never happen.

Now, the unlikely match-up between Wright and Hopkins is about to become a reality. Too bad it’s two years too late. While it should still prove to be a great tactical match-up between two of the best boxing technicians in the sport, it just doesn’t make sense. Both would better serve their own interests pursuing different paths.

As for the fight itself, I think Winky may have bitten off more than he can chew in this one. For starters, he has no business fighting at 170 pounds. He looked small when he fought at 160, so I’m hard-pressed to see him carry ten extra pounds with any measure of success. Hopkins carried extra weight brilliantly in his boxing bout with Tarver, whereas, Winky looked awkward and uncomfortable at 160. Beyond that, Winky’s also about to face a technically superior boxer who feasts on southpaws.

While it’s true that Winky and Hopkins are two of the best defensive wizards in the game, Hopkins has Winky beat in this regard, too, and their respective bouts with Taylor proved this. Winky relies on his freakishly long forearms to block punches, and does this sensationally well, albeit, one-dimensionally. Hopkins, on the other hand, is slippery and elusive, not to mention, extremely versatile. He’s a master at using body movement, slipping punches, blocking punches, and most impressively, rolling with punches—he’s multi-dimensional. Hopkins is a much better equipped defensive boxing fighter, and frankly, a much better offensive fighter, too. Winky has nothing on him.

Maybe Hopkins will finally “get old over night”, and Winky can sneak away with a victory, but I highly doubt it. I suspect Hopkins will outclass Winky come July 21. I just don’t think this fight makes much sense for either fighter, especially Winky Wright. In fact, I think Winky is making a huge mistake.

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Article posted on 04.04.2007

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