The old 2005 calendar is running out, but we’ve already gotten our Norman Rockwells, pandas and roses for next year. Before December closes, we may get a glimpse of someone who may be fighter of this year.
Winky Wright earlier in 2005 sent Felix Trinidad Jr. back into retirement with a technically perfect 12-round shutout. The victory underlined just how good the southpaw has been all these years when no one would face him.
Wright will be in the smoke-filled canyons of the Mohegan Sun resort in the hills of Connecticut on Dec. 10. He does not have a daunting task facing Sam Solimon, an Australian with a similar resume as a globetrotting fighter. Solimon, while awkward, bigger, perhaps stronger than Wright, is a very worthy heavy underdog.
Wright is 12-1 to add Solimon’s No. 1 IBFelons rating to his WBCrock and WBAssinine rankings as the top contender in the middleweight division. Assuming that neither Bernard Taylor or Jermain Taylor would rush off and face the master boxer, who is still the "real" junior middleweight champion.
Even champions are reluctant to face Wright, and no small wonder. Give Solimon credit for his willingness to risk his high, and probably undeserved ranking, against the man who twice beat Sugar Shane Mosley.
Wright’s search for opponents took him all over the world. Solimon’s passport also has a ton of stamps. "We have a lot in common," said Solimon. "We’ve looked for the best fighters in the world, took our bags and went off."
To find work, Solimon, has fought as high as cruiserweight. Solimon may not have beaten anyone most boxing writers would recognize, but he said "we’ve fought many undefeated fighters who are now defeated."
For Wright, who had been hoping for someone from Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Hopkins, Solimon is a bit of a letdown, especially after his pristine performance against Trinidad.
"I can’t lie," he said. "It’s not the same fighting Sam as it was fighting Tito."
Solimon, a big Trinidad fan who says he had his walls covered with Tito posters, knows what he’s up against in Wright. "He’s a packaged deal," said the Aussie. "He can box, he can brawl, he can punch. You don’t get 25 knockouts by luck."
The problem, Wright has discovered, is that he’s too good for his own good.
"Yeah, I think so," he said, when asked if that description was particularly applicable after his easy handling of the legendary Trinidad.
On the other hand, was he supposed to let Trinidad hit him a couple of times? Wright was asked if maybe he hasn’t progressed much from the days when no one would fight him to now, when no one will fight him.
"It ain’t the same," he said. "Now people know they’re afraid of me. Before, it was
just me saying they were afraid of me."
Solimon said Wright’s southpaw stance should not be a problem. Before fellow Australian Kostya Tszyu fought such left-handers as Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell and Ricky Hatton, Solimon turned around to box southpaw and give The Russian some sparring.
I’ve got a feeling this is not going to be an especially exciting fight. While for the life of me I can’t see Wright losing, I don’t think 12-1 is the kind of price where anyone should get rich. What if his shoelace unties and he stoops to look at it? Okay, so what.
Wright should make a statement about being fighter of the year. Diego Corrales probably had a leg up on that honor for his incredible comeback in his first meeting with Jose Luis Castillo. But then Castillo eliminated both of them when, after failing to make weight, he knocked out Corrales.
Right now I’d have to say it will be either Winky or England’s Ricky Hatton, who made Tszyu quit on his stool. However beating old Kostya, for me, does not compare with what Winky did to Trinidad. Adding Carlos Maussa to his resume,does not do more for Hatton than Solimon would do for Wright.
I will have a rooting interest for a Dec 10 fight offered that afternoon on pay-per-view from London. Old friend Danny Williams, who was the 2004 Knock Out Mike Tyson of the Year, (Kevin McBride was this year’s), faces undefeated former 2000 Olympic heavyweight champion, Audley Harrison.
I’ll be rooting for Harrison against the personable Williams, who proved against Vitali Klitschko last year he was not really world class. At 32, Harrison may not be exactly new blood, but as far as this heavyweight division is concerned, he would be welcome fresh blood.