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IBF strips Wright of its title

Going for big-money fights likely will cost the area boxer more belts.

Published April 22, 2004


Winky Wright's reign as undisputed junior middleweight champion is over, at least in the eyes of the organizations handing out belts.

Monday, the International Boxing Federation stripped the St. Petersburg fighter of the title he has held since 2001 because he agreed to fight Shane Mosley again instead of IBF No. 1 contender Kasim Ouma.

Wright is expected to lose his other belts shortly as well. He won the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles by beating Mosley on March 13. The WBC is likely to strip Wright because he isn't expected to fight its mandatory No. 1 contender, Javier Castillejo.

Wright also is the WBA Super World Champion, a designation given to champions who hold the title of two or more organizations recognized by the WBA, such as the WBC, IBF and World Boxing Organization.

Without his IBF and WBC belts, Wright would automatically lose his WBA title.

By the time his rematch with Mosley takes place, Wright likely will be without a title.

"It doesn't matter to me. They can take away the titles, but everyone still knows who the undisputed champion is," he said. "They make it so you can't defend every belt anyways. So they can take them." With megafights on the horizon with Mosley, Felix Trinidad and, perhaps, Oscar De La Hoya, Wright would not have been able to face mandatory challengers until late 2005 or 2006.

Wright dismissed the importance of the titles even though unifying the belts was the paramount moment of his career. But since beating Robert Frazier for the IBF title in 2001, his mandatory defenses against Jason Papillion, Bronco McKart, J.C. Candelo and Angel Hernandez have barely caused a ripple in the sport.

"Right now, I'm fighting for the fame and for the money," he said. "I fought the rest, and now it's time to fight the best."

To that end, he signed last week with promoter Don King, capping a tumultuous week in which his reputation took a hit.

After his contract with Roy Jones Jr.'s Square Ring promotional company expired with the Mosley fight, Wright began shopping for a new promoter. Jones adviser Brad Jacobs said Wright made a gentleman's agreement two weeks ago with Jones that he would stay with Square Ring for two more years.

Before Jacobs could get the contract done, Wright signed a contract with Lou DiBella Entertainment.

"We were blindsided," Jacobs said, adding Wright might have been overwhelmed by the situation.

"It's time for him to cash in, and that can be confusing. There's all kinds of people coming at him from all kinds of directions. You just hope he would sit back and think, "Where were all these people the day before the Mosley fight and where would they have been if I had been on my back when the fight was over?' "

Jacobs said Square Ring still expects Wright to honor his agreement - 10 percent of his earnings the next two years.

Wright's deal with Lou DiBella was short-lived. Friday, King announced he had signed Wright. After vowing to fight that deal, DiBella grudgingly agreed to release him from the contract.

"Winky misled me. He misled others, and the situation became a mess and looked like it could deteriorate into a further mess," DiBella told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's a no-win situation." Wright said he picked King because "for me to get Trinidad, I had to go to Don. It will help me (get the big fighters). He's got all the big players in that division."

Wright apparently was without some of his key advisers during the past two weeks, including attorney Jim Wilkes and manager James Prince. Whether he decided to go in a different direction or was briefly represented by someone else remains unclear, but Wilkes is helping put the pieces back together.

"There was some confusion," Wilkes said. "Everything is getting back together. It's kind of like Humpty Dumpty. I'm just sad that sometimes business gets in the way of sport, but I guess that's the way it goes."

As for his flip-flopping and the bad publicity he has received, Wright said he would reserve comment for later.

"If people knew the whole situation, they wouldn't be questioning the situation," Wright said. "I really don't care to get into it. There will be a time for that."

[Last modified April 22, 2004, 01:05:34]


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