Winky survives Soliman

12.12.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: In a fight that was more interesting than I had originally anticipated, “Winky” Wright won a unanimous decision over Sam Soliman. I concede, I hadn’t seen much of Soliman before this bout, and didn’t really expect him to do much against a skilled technician and pound-for-pound elite like Ronald “Winky” Wright. However, since losing seven bouts early in his career, Soliman had won nineteen in a row, and after seeing his performance on Saturday night, I can see why.

“Winky” came into this fight after three consecutive victories over “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Felix Trinidad, and he looked awesome against these former elite pugilists. In fact, if it weren’t for a fighter known by the name of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., “Winky” might very well be considered the best boxer in the fight game today. Since he had easily dispatched of guys like Mosley and Trinidad (the latter of whom he literally shutout on the scorecards), I didn’t give Soliman much of a chance in this one. I just assumed that Wright’s defensive skills would carry him to another lopsided victory. But things didn’t pan out that way.

In fact, Soliman was absolutely relentless. For twelve rounds, his body was in overdrive, as he unleashed an insane number of punches, exhibited great movement, and had an overall level of energy that was mind-boggling. This swarming style of his appeared to give “Winky” a bit of trouble, and to be sure, Soliman certainly looked better against Winky than either Mosley or Trinidad did.

This was a close fight which I felt could have probably gone either way. As it turns out, I scored the bout 115-113 in favor of Wright (judges had it 115-113, 115-112, and 117-110). I forget exactly how my rounds broke down due to the fact I spilled a beer on my scorecard at night’s end, but my total tally was 115-113, and I believe that the judges’ decision was the right call (aside from the 117-110 scorecard which seemed out of line with the fight I was watching). However, it was a close fight, and several people who viewed the fight with me were under the impression that Soliman deserved victory, or that it even should have been ruled a draw.

Strangely enough, I can’t help but think of this fight without placing in light of the fight that took place one week prior – the Hopkins-Taylor rematch. The thing of it is, this fight seemed closer than the prior fight, meaning, I felt Hopkins won his bout with Taylor more convincingly than “Winky” won his bout with Soliman….and strangely enough, Hopkins lost a unanimous whereas “Winky” was awarded a decision. Something about this just didn’t seem right to me.

For example, I was a bit perturbed when I heard Lederman speak of “Winky’s” effective defense, and was giving him all kinds of credit for his impeccable ability. Yet, Lederman said these words following a round where “Winky’s” defense didn’t exactly look stellar. Soliman was landing flush blows on “Winky” much more frequently than were Mosley or Trinidad, even if most of his punches never hit the mark, and Soliman’s swarming style was clearly causing some problems for him. The truth is, “Winky” looked off on Saturday night. It was probably some combination of a bad style match-up and the fact that Wright probably had trouble getting motivated for this bout. The look in his eyes just wasn’t the same as it was in his previous three fights, where you could see the hunger and determination. Frankly, it didn’t seem to me as if Winky really wanted to be there. Furthermore, his masterful defensive skills were not on display as they were in his more recent bouts – which again had me curious about Ledderman’s praise of his defense in a fight where it didn’t quite look up to par.

I don’t have any problem with Lederman’s praise of defense as an imperative mechanism for scoring fights on its face. However, I do have issue with the fact he seemed rather inconsistent from one week to the next. Where was his praise of Hopkins’s defensive mastery the previous week? Surely, Hopkins put on an equally impressive display of defensive prowess, if not better! Yet, I don’t recall him (or anyone else) really making much note of the fact Hopkins was making his younger opponent miss and miss frequently. And this inconsistency on Lederman’s part stuck me as odd, being these two fights happened in back-to-back weeks.

In any case, “Winky” got the job done and won the bout, albeit, in much more competitive match than most people had expected. He was able to use his freakishly long forearms to block or deflect the large majority of Soliman’s punches, and he was clearly landing the harder, more accurate blows throughout the contest. With this win, “Winky” further cemented the fact that he is amongst the elite in the middleweight division, and this victory should set-up a championship bout with Jermain Taylor sometime next year. I look forward to seeing it.

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Article posted on 12.12.2005

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