BOXING Wright's next fight could be rematch
Former Austintown resident Dan Birmingham prefers that his boxer settles a score with Jermain Taylor.
By JOHN BASSETTI
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
The trainer of the No. 1 middleweight contender says that his fighter's next bout will be in April or early May against another top name.
Dan Birmingham is hoping Ronald "Winky" Wright's next opponent is Jermain Taylor, the undisputed middleweight champion against whom Wright fought to a draw last June.
"Winky has a date in April or May against some top name but we don't know who," said Birmingham, a former Austintown resident whose mother, Dolores, lives on Youngstown's southwest side. He resides in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"He's been up to New York to talk to HBO and indications are that it could be a Taylor rematch. We're not sure when, but HBO is pushing for a rematch."
More talks due
If that's the case, heavy negotiations will begin soon, Birmingham said.
Taylor, in previously published reports, bristled because Wright said he was robbed in their draw.
In addition, Taylor insists he'll never acquiesce to Wright's demand for a 50-50 split of the purse for a rematch.
Birmingham said that Wright made 4 million against Taylor, but a 50-50 split would generate more.
"There's a lot more money in that fight," Birmingham explained of the rematch. "By holding out for 50-50 he should make closer to 7 or 8 million."
He said Wright was offered 5 million, but turned it down.
"I think Taylor's promoter is trying to duck us," said Birmingham, the boxing writers' trainer-of-the-year award winner for 2004.
In the June, 2006 battle in which Taylor defended his WBC and WBO titles, Birmingham argues that his fighter landed more punches.
"If you go by Compustats, Wink landed more punches. He was the aggressor and showed better defense," he said.
Based on Wright (51-3-1) landing 11 punches to Taylor's four in the last round, Birmingham is puzzled by claims that Wright gave away the 12th.
Neither did much
"How we gave away the round, I'll never know. Neither guy did much, but I think Wink did more," he said. "But when you're the poster boy for HBO, you have everything on your side."
Taylor (26-0-1) defended his titles again in early December by beating Kassim Ouma.
It's been written that, at 6-1 with a 78-inch reach, Taylor may not be middleweight for more than a year.
Birmingham's father, Jim, and stepmother, Mary, of Diamond, O. visited Tampa in December for Wright's last fight, a unanimous decision over Ike Quartey at the St. Pete Times Forum.
While Birmingham thinks another Taylor bout is likely, he said that Wright favors meeting the winner of the May 5 fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Wink wants to fight De La Hoya," Birmingham said. "He's always wanted to fight Oscar. Myself, I'd like a Taylor rematch just to settle the issue. Everybody in the world says we won the fight. Maybe we'll get the right judges this time."
De La Hoya-Mayweather, a 12-rounder to take place at the MGM in Las Vegas, is for Hoya's WBC junior middleweight title.
There's also talk of Wright and Bernard Hopkins meeting sometime this summer. Wright has never fought Hopkins.
Taylor beat Hopkins back-to-back via split and unanimous decisions, respectively, in July and December, 2005.
If it plays out like Birmingham anticipates, a Taylor rematch would come first, followed by the De La Hoya-Mayweather winner.
"Hopefully, we'll get that fight [Hoya-Mayweather] by process of elimination because there's nobody else out there," he said. "The Taylor fight everybody wants to see."
With 55 pro fights and close to 100 amateur battles in him, Wright, at age 35, will likely fight only one more time or twice.
"That's what's left for Winky," Birmingham said.
On the way up, one of Wright's fights in France in 1993 was an eight-round unanimous decision over Youngstown's Roland Commings.