An Exciting Fight Starring Soliman and Wright

December 10, 2005 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr., photo © Wray Edwards - A Saturday night in Uncasville Connecticut, visiting Aussie Middleweight contender, Sam Soliman (31-8-0-12 KO’s, ranked #1 by the IBF) took on one of America’s top notch pugilists, Ronald “Winky” Wright (50-3-0-25 KO’s). It had to be one of the toughest fights Wright ever had. Soliman’s game performance won the crowd but lost the decision in the eyes of the Judges at ringside, who scored it a unanimously in favor of Wright by scores of, 117-110, 115-112 and 115-113. The crowd booed the decision.

It was an American crowd.

Soliman presented an awkward, amateurish looking style for Wright as he relentlessly threw punches from all angles. Though Soliman lacks any noticeable power, he has amazing stamina and a ton of heart. Soliman understandably felt he’d done enough to win the fight and I have no doubt many fans share his view.

Winky won because his skills were more refined and his punches had more authority. He did more damage and was landing at a much higher percentage than Soliman, who threw over 1200 punches but only scored about 15% of the time. Winky spent a lot of time covering up, but when he did throw punches, he landed almost half of his shots. Winky landed a lot of good body shots and rocked Soliman a few times. Soliman won a fair share of the rounds but never really hurt Wright.

This fight was closer than the Official scores reflected. There were many rounds were Soliman clearly outworked Wright. When it was over, Wright looked a lot worse for wear than anything Felix Trinidad or Shane Mosley ever did against him. As for ring generalship, Soliman looked wild, but employed the best strategy for his skill level to get the most out of his performance. He kept the pressure on all night and surprised Wright, who figured Sam would run out of gas in the later rounds. That never happened. Soliman took Winky’s best shots without ever being knocked down and had the stamina and determination to keep it competitive from round one to twelve.

Soliman’s mobility and aggression dictated the tempo, forcing Wright to fight at a faster pace than the comfortable, controlled pace he used successfully against his last two Super Star opponents. Soliman rarely landed anything flush but he landed more against Wright than both Mosley and Trinidad did combined.

Even when Wright went for the kill, Soliman not only weathered the storm but always came back with an enthusiasm that was inspiring. Wright landed stronger, cleaner shots but Soliman landed a lot more than he was credited for and was far busier overall. Though Wright won this fight, it was Soliman who won the crowd, lending further criticism of Winky’s marketability.

It’s a damn shame that boxing is more a popularity contest fueled more by hype than a real competition with a legitimate ranking system that mandates Champions to fight Champions or at least top contenders. Why should hand picked opponents get the privilege of fighting for the Titles? Wright is arguably the best fighter in the 160-pound division but the noises
coming out of the Jermain Taylor camp after seeing Wright vs. Soliman, are discouraging.

There are other fish to fry for Taylor, like Arthur Abraham, who surprised a few people when he beat Kingsley Ikeke by TKO 5 in Germany Saturday night to become the new IBF Champion. If Taylor fights and beats Abraham, he will own all four of the most recognizable Titles.

Would Abraham fight outside of Germany? Would Taylor fight outside the USA? Those questions present problems that could prevent a Taylor vs. Abraham fight from happening. (Shades of Roy Jones Jr. and the fight he never had against Dariusz Michalchewzki) There is also Felix Sturm, the guy who beat Oscar De La Hoya but got robbed and is undefeated since. International Title bouts should be fought on neutral territory. That would be fair.

Strategically, I can see Taylor going after Abraham next, if unifying the Titles is his aim. If Taylor beats Abraham, he still needs to fight Winky Wright in order to establish who the best Middleweight truly is. Competition demands it.

Wright is now the WBC #1 Contender and would be a top rate opponent for either Abraham or Taylor. If Wright is not avoided due to the politics of fear, he will have the opportunity to demonstrate why so many feel he’s the best “boxer” in the business.

Though knockout artists are the biggest draws in boxing, true fans of the sweet science can appreciate the artful way that Winky Wright executes the art of hitting without being hit and makes powerful punchers like Trinidad and Mosley look like amateurs.

Taylor is not such a great “boxer” but he has a good jab (when he uses it) and the confidence of knowing he beat the former Champion, Bernard Hopkins. Wright vs. Taylor would be an interesting clash of styles and I’d be mighty impressed if Taylor could beat Winky Wright.

Let’s hope the Middleweight division continues to gather momentum. It would be great if there were a tournament involving Felix Sturm, Winky Wright, Arthur Abraham and Jermain Taylor. We fight fans that support this sport deserve nothing less.

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Article posted on 11.12.2005

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