Is Jermain Taylor Made for Wright?

14.06.06 - By Darryl Waterhouse: This Saturday night sees one of the most eagerly anticipated fights of the year between Jermain Taylor and Winky Wright. After the catastrophic disappointment of the cancelled rubber match between Corrales and Castillo, I think we deserve this. The young, fast, heavy-handed, and undisputed king of the 160 lb division, Jermain Taylor (25-0, 17 KO's), with the meteoric rise almost from obscurity, against the older, steely willed, canny, boxing totalitarian, Winky Wright (50-3, 25 KO's).

Potentially, and I donít need to say this to anyone who knows an inkling about boxing, the mix of the characters and their abilities isnít going to make for anything explosive. No, instead, I believe we will be watching two men in their prime, both looking to make their marks in the echelons of boxing history for the beautiful purity by which both men ply their trade. Ticket sales donít lie. And should you want to watch to assist yourself describing the art to pugilism to your off-spring, then start with this. Living in the UK, Iím more than happy to sit up for almost the entirety of Saturday night to watch what I believe will be a spectacle of fast, accurate punching, fleet footwork, defensive mastery, and generally superb ringman-ship.

Weíve got two character professionals. No requirements here for name calling, and both men already hit the scales on the 7 day pre-fight weigh in, as per instruction.

Both men will be amazingly fit and strong. I donít believe either will have struggled with the weight.

We will see them make eye contact before the bout in the most respectful of fashions, and when they touch gloves before getting down to work, Iím sure in the deepest areas of both gentlemensí psyche, theyíll be hoping neither of them get beat up too much.

Taylor, for the uninitiated, is the flashy, quick punching fighter carrying an unbeaten record. However, donít be fooled by the smile, or the generally nice demeanour, he carries his nickname of ĎBad Intentionsí for his ability. This guy has been in the ring twice with legend Bernard Hopkins. And, although I felt that the second fight went his way (albeit on dispute of many fans), he seemed to struggle with the come-forward, I will work you out methodology B-Hop is famed for. For me, certainly on the night of the second bout, Bernard did not do nearly enough to take back those belts.

Taylorsí rise has been fast, and earlier I used the word meteoric, though in all honesty, he quite literally came from nowhere. Only the knowledgeable fans had heard of Jermain before he fought Hopkins for the first time. Taylor was 23-0-0 when he did get in against Hopkins, and many also believed he hadnít really paid his dues before getting his shot, but he had enough about him to give Hopkins more trouble than most. On Saturday, Taylor will have had less than half the bouts of his opponent.

Ronald Wright on the other hand, the heavy handed, accurate punching, port-sided slickster carries one of the most enviable records any present boxer could possibly have. Long left in the wilderness during the more difficult periods in his career when no-one would sign-up to face him, he was forced to travel the globe in search of those Ďlearningí fights. Yes, those three defeats scar his beautiful record as a professional, but that is not what this is about. ĎWinkyí Wright has finally peaked, and oh my word how he has. I donít need to go in to what he did to Shane, or Tito. Weíve all seen the bouts, and Iím sure we were all commensurately amazed that an under-performer in many of his earlier bouts could actually do what he did in front of our very eyes. Indeed, one of my personal frustrations when I watched Wright in several earlier fights was that he didnít seem to do enough.

But for me, all this is what makes it oh so captivating. Though those last two wins for Taylor make him the man (a disputable title Ė having beaten one man), but I still look at Jermain as something of an unknown quantity. I mean, of course we learn far more when a fightersí record becomes blemished with defeat for the first time. But here in Jermainís case, heís up against it. Heís facing a man with three losses (two perhaps contentious), but a man in Wright we know enough about that will leave Taylor worried, and very worried!

What will he do under the accurate jabbing, brilliant defensive work and ring closure of Wright?

We know Taylor can jab, we know Wright can jab. Will Taylorsí left hand be enough to stop Wright coming at him?

Neither man likes to waste a punch, so donít expect fireworks, certainly not in the early stages. Though, I like to think if one man can see and opening to an end, heíll step in, and at least try to take it.

Both men will want to command, Taylor from the outside as the taller rangier man, to look for openings, and point score. In contrast, Wright will work from centre stage. Wright when standing has such amazingly long arms that his guard is crab-like. Hitting him around the arms and body has seemingly little effect, so Taylor will need to work the ring and hope he can prise open that guard, hit with accuracy, and try to grind down the older man to a stand-still.

Taylor is more open than Wright, but will look to use his movement to counter Wrightís devastatingly accurate right-hand jab, and slashing lefts.

I expect to see Wright working Taylorsí body, and he will if he wants to see a more static opponent! Wright will carry high hands crunched up to avoid being struck, his boxing brain working tirelessly for chances to get inside and do his better work.

The first several rounds will be telling, and the first round itself will be much of a feeling out round with tight defences from both men, not much thrown, nothing missing, no embarrassments. However, I mention that these rounds will be telling simply because come the scorecards, they may just be the difference between the two fighters.

Tactically, both are sound, though I lean towards Wright as the more experienced and well rounded boxer to prevail in the tactical stakes. Incidentally, this will be Taylorsí 26th bout, and Wrights 54th!)

Eventually, the more schooled work from Wright to begin to break up the less seasoned new kid, though I reckon that Taylor will have enough in the tank to see the fight to the final bell.

I just donít believe Taylor knows enough to cause Wright too many issues, and that this will be a learning fight for him, I just canít see him having enough for the better boxer in Winky. Yes, Ronald Wright is 34 years old, but heís a young boxer for his age, non-grizzled, and like a fine wine, has matured steadily and consistently through his career.

12 championship rounds are a long haul, and I firmly believe this fight will go the full distance, but just for once, Iím actually looking forward it.

Article posted on 14.06.2006

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