Promoter says Wright nixes Taylor, fires him

Published February 7, 2006

Winky Wright fired promoter Gary Shaw late Monday night, just moments after the promoter and Lou DiBella had finalized a deal for the St. Petersburg fighter to meet Jermain Taylor in June, according to both promoters.

Shaw said the contracts were ready to be signed, with the middleweight title fight scheduled for Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, live on HBO.

But when presented with the deal, Wright apparently declined and told adviser Jim Wilkes he no longer was willing to be promoted by Shaw.

"I don't know what happened," Shaw said. "Jim walked over to me and said Winky's not a go. He told me Winky didn't want to work with me anymore.

"I'm a little shocked."

Even more surprising is that Wilkes, a well-known Tampa lawyer and Wright's longtime confidante who bailed him out of a number of legal situations related to promotional contracts, said he was resigning as the fighter's adviser.

"We're still friends, but Winky is going to go his own way," Wilkes said. "Other than that, I have no idea."

Wright did not return a phone call left on his cell phone.

This is the second time Shaw and Wright have been at odds since the fighter hired music manager Chris Lighty to run his career. Last fall, Shaw resigned when he said Wright and Lighty were negotiating behind his back, but Wilkes patched things up the next day.

But Wright, in moving forward with his own promotional company, Winky Promotions, continued to look for better deals for himself. Monday, Wright and Lighty met with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaeffer and HBO, the final straw in the relationship with Shaw and Wilkes.

Neither man knew about the meeting.

Golden Boy Promotions is Oscar De La Hoya's company, and Wright has long had a strong desire to fight the former Olympian. Bernard Hopkins is also involved in Golden Boy Promotions and has been mentioned as a possible opponent for Wright, but most likely Winky Promotions will be forming some co-promotional arrangement with the company.

It may not involve a fight with Taylor, however.

DiBella said he will not renegotiate the deal he had with Shaw, and was surprised by the sudden turn of events.

"I'm stunned," he said. "Gary and I had the deal completely done. I've been trying hard to keep everything under wraps, but he has all the I's dotted and the T's crossed. We agreed on everything. Then I get a call from Shaw telling me he no longer represents Wright."

DiBella said he would call the WBC and request a purse bid, which will require Wright to take 40 percent of the winning purse, which DiBella said is far less than he would have received under the deal Shaw negotiated.

"I can no longer let Jermain Taylor or the life of DiBella Entertainment ride on what Winky Wright is doing," DiBella said. "We're going to be doing what's in best interest for Jermain. I'm done with him. Winky Wright, I like him, but you can't rely on him."

Shaw said he convinced HBO to pay $6.5-million for the fight, as opposed to the $5-million it had offered. He also spent the weekend in Las Vegas negotiating a site fee, all of which would have potentially produced the biggest payday of Wright's career.

EASY ON THE EYES: Edner Cherry, who lives in Palm Harbor and trains in Tampa, stole the show Saturday in El Paso, Texas, even though he lost his lightweight bout against Jose Armando Santa Cruz. On Showtime, Cherry and NABF champion Santa Cruz brawled to a thrilling unanimous decision. Cherry (19-4-1) knocked Santa Cruz down with a short left in the third round and hurt the champion on a number of occasions throughout the fight. But Santa Cruz was resilient, nailing Cherry with just as many good shots to score a 117-110, 115-112, 114-113 decision.