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Winky Wright Criticizes Boxing Politics, Praises UFC
Published August 4th, 2008

By Scoop Malinowski

Concerns are growing that Mixed Martial Arts fighting is on the way to surpassing professional boxing in popularity (if it hasn’t already) with Elite XC on network TV CBS, The Ultimate Fighter series on Spike, etc. etc. Add Winky Wright to the list to those lauding the UFC’s business plan and questioning the decision-makers in boxing.

In a wide-ranging interview with Danny Flexen in the July 25th Boxing News weekly magazine of London (State Of The Game with Danny Flexen), Wright voiced plenty of logical sentiments which the boxing powers-that-be had better begin to heed, and fast. Among them told by Wright to Flexen:

“When I was coming up, more top fighters fought each other. They all wanted to prove they were the best in their weight class, not in the WBA, the IBF, but the best, period. But now the promoters and the networks get in the way and we’re losing a lot of fans because of it. The promoters milk the prospects, they don’t match them against top fighters. The networks allow too many easy fights.”

“I would definitely say (boxing is) declining as the best are not fighting the best. In the NBA they don’t just cancel the playoffs and have the Lakers against some sorry team. No one would watch. That’s why the UFC is gaining so much in popularity. The best fight the best and the fans love to see it.”

Clearly, Wright is expressing frustration at Floyd Mayweather who has made a habit for the last two or three years, while completely enabled by his friends at HBO and his management team led by Al Haymon, of handpicking second rate competition while ducking and dodging a logical Welterweight unification tournament, which boxing fans have been calling for several years in the heavyweight division. And not coincidentally, during that time period the UFC has exploded in popularity and cultural significance.

Wright continued, placing the blame on…

“The networks and the promoters but mainly the networks. A promoter can say no (to an opponent) but the networks could come back and say, well if he doesn’t fight this guy, then he’s not on the network. The networks aren’t standing up. They give one promoter the easy ride but not the other.”

“I would destroy the executives at all the TV networks. They have their own agenda and if they continue to run boxing the way they run it, it’ll continue to decline…We need some young execs who want to make a name for boxing, not themselves.”

“HBO gives a lot of dates to certain managers and you wonder why The fighters in the last few months are all managed by one guy who’s good friends with one of the big guys at HBO.”

Wright was probably implying Haymon as the manager/advisor (or whatever you want to call it) with the hefty influence at HBO. Haymon has HBO dates this year for Librado Andrade, Andre Berto, Vernon Forrest, Paul Williams, Arreola, Taylor, etc. Haymon is a curious and mysterious figure in boxing because he apparently does not speak to the media on the record. Which is puzzling because all managers and promoters tend to, by nature, gravitate towards a chance to speak to the media so they can publicize their plans and their fighters. Why Haymon would make it his rule to keep a private and secretive figure is kind of intriguing for its unusualness.

But the bottom line for boxing is, like Winky Wright has articulated, that if the powers that be want to keep it as business as usual in giving fans ‘the best versus not the best’ (although Margarito vs. Cotto is a recent exception to the rule), boxing will continue to lose ground, lose fans, lose money and lose popularity to MMA and the UFC.

And the boxing powers-that-be will only be able to blame themselves.

Source: Boxing News weekly magazine, www.boxingnewsonline.net

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December 01, 2008
03:23:28 PM

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