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Wright cracks 'em up at faceoff
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published June 16, 2006
MEMPHIS - As St. Petersburg's Winky Wright and Jermain Taylor met for the traditional faceoff after Thursday's final news conference at the FedEx Forum, the big question was: Who would smile first.
Answer: Wright, of course.
For the Arkansas media and fans, it was a different kind of news conference from the ones they attended for the Bernard Hopkins -Taylor fight. Hopkins likes to use such staredowns as a way to gain a psychological edge over an opponent.
Wright apparently likes to see if he can make an opponent laugh.
And he did. Taylor steeled his jaw and tried to maintain an angry face, but couldn't resist laughing.
"Come on, you're making this harder," Taylor said, smiling.
The two tried three times to "look" angry, but after a few seconds failed each time.
TAKE TWO: Wright and Taylor will have a second chance to get the staredown right when they weigh in at 6 tonight at the downtown Pepsi Pavilion.
FREE FIGHTS: ESPN2's Friday Night Fights will be live from the Pepsi Pavilion after the weigh-in and feature Memphis' Anthony Peterson (17-0, 13 KOs) against Adan Hernandez (14-4 5 KOs) for the NABO lightweight championship.
PRAISING WRIGHT: Trainer Emanuel Steward said he had to be talked into taking over Taylor's camp because of the respect he has for Wright.
"I think Winky Wright is the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world ... not No. 2," Steward said. "And when I saw that Shane Mosley was a 3-to-1 favorite in their first fight, I told Winky it should be the other way around. Winky Wright is one of my favorite people."
FINAL PURSES: Promoter Lou DiBella said Taylor was making $3.75-million for the fight, while Wright was taking home $3.5-million.
He said while Wright is only paying sanctioning fees for the WBC belt, Taylor was paying fees to the WBC and WBO to retain his belts should he win.
DiBella added he is not paying sanctioning fees to the WBA because it wouldn't guarantee Taylor as the champion afterward. Taylor and the WBA have had a rocky relationship recently, with the WBA removing Taylor from its rankings amid questions about whether he followed all the rules before his second fight against Hopkins.
Though he has been reinstalled atop the organizations' middleweight rankings, the title remains under review.
LOCAL SHOW: Tonight at the Tampa Westshore Doubletree Hotel, 2000 Olympian Dante Craig continues his comeback in main event of a One Punch Productions.
Craig is 16-4 with 12 KOs and has won seven straight after a rocky pro debut. He is trained by Tampa's Jimmy Williams . He meets former WBA light middleweight champion Carl Daniels (49-8-1, 31 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
St. Pete Boxing Club light heavyweight prospect Akinyemi Laleye (5-0, 2 KOs), featherweight Kermit Gonzalez (4-0, 3 KOs) and heavyweight Lenroy Thomas (1-1, 1 KO) are on the undercard.
Doors open at 7 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7:30. Tickets ($20 and $35) are available through Ticketmaster or by contacting One Punch Productions at (813) 503-8109.