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Winky agrees to big fight

In a match of the world's best middleweight boxers, Winky Wright will meet Jermain Taylor on June 17.

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published February 10, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - Winky Wright and Jermain Taylor agreed Friday to a deal to fight June 17 in Las Vegas, 10 minutes before a purse bid that would have likely eliminated any chance of a meeting between the world's two best middleweights.

The two sides agreed on the original financial terms, in which Taylor will receive a guaranteed $4.6-million with St. Petersburg's Wright making $3.8-million.

Taylor (25-0) is the WBC middleweight champion, and Wright (50-3) is the No. 1 contender and mandatory challenger.

The fight will not be on pay-per-view, but regular HBO, the highest-profile fight the network has broadcast free for its subscribers since Lennox Lewis beat Vitali Klitschko in 2003.

"If not for Gary Shaw's effort, this wouldn't have gotten done," said DiBella, not always on friendly terms with the rival promoter. "This negotiation, other than Gary Shaw, has been a monumental (mess). Amateur hour. It's the most unprofessional negotiations I've ever been involved in. The only guy who behaved was Shaw."

After Wright turned down the original offer Monday and parted ways with promoter Gary Shaw, the deal appeared dead. But Wright's lawyer, Jim Wilkes, spent all week putting the deal back together.

Thursday, Wilkes and Shaw called DiBella and told him they would sign the original offer.

DiBella balked and said he was going to wait until today's purse. But with negotiations continuing into the early hours, the two sides struck the deal shortly before 1 p.m.

"It was a lot of hard work," said Shaw, who has yet to talk to Wright since Monday's blow up. "I did this because I love Jim Wilkes."

DiBella said there were only two changes in the original deal: that Wright's Winky Promotions could have no hand in doing the fight, and that if Shaw were to be fired by Wright, the contracts would be voided.