By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
Published June 15, 2006
If Jermain Taylor loses Saturday night in Memphis, he won't walk out of the ring empty-handed.
Winky Wright confirmed Wednesday before his public workout at the Grand Casino in Tunica, Miss., that he is paying only the WBC's sanctioning fees, leaving the WBA and WBO middleweight belts in Taylor's possession regardless of the result.
"I feel like I don't need to get all the belts because he doesn't have them all anyway," Wright said. "I'm 34 years old. I got 50-something fights. I've been beating whoever they put in front of me.
"It's just about fighting the big names, really. I don't need the belts."
But the biggest reason for Wright's decision is money and making sure more of his guaranteed $3.8-million purse makes it into his bank account.
Boxing's governing bodies generally charge 3-4 percent of a fighter's purse to sanction a fight. By leaving the WBO and WBA titles on the table, Wright is saving more than $200,000.
"I'm a businessman. This is about making my business right," he said. "It's about getting the most money I can, when I can, while I can."
The crowd will be behind Taylor, who hails from nearby Little Rock.
But Wright says Saturday's fight has nothing to do with earning respect, something he thinks he already has done.
"I have nothing to prove," Wright said. "You all have to remember I'm the guy that came from nowhere. I came from St. Petersburg. I'm the guy that put that on the map. Nobody knew where St. Pete was at. Nobody knew Winky Wright.
"I came up through the amateurs. I came up through the pros with no big promotions, but look at me. I'm fighting mega fights. No one can do anything to my career."
GET YER TICKETS:
The Memphis group that won the site promotion rights, Prize Fight Boxing, might have priced itself out of a sellout Saturday at the FedEx Forum.
Because the remaining tickets are so expensive (up to $1,200), there are grumblings within the promotions that sales are going slowly.
Taylor and Wright passed their second-to-last weight tests last week. At the WBC's mandatory seven-day weigh-in, Taylor hit the scales at 168 pounds and Wright 167.
Promoter Gary Shaw said Wright is about 163 pounds while strength coach Darryl Hammond raved about the fighter's conditioning, saying he will look better than he did against Felix Trinidad.