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Wright looks for right split in rematch
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published September 12, 2006
Coming this week to a meeting room near you:
Winky Wright vs. Jim Wilkes.
Middleweight contender vs. Tampa lawyer. Nasty jab vs. lightning gab.
It's not exactly pay-per-view, but there's no denying it will probably go 12 rounds this week as St. Petersburg's best boxer waits for the contract to fight Jermain Taylor on Dec. 2 to be finalized.
The storyline: Does Wright, who has felt slighted for most of his career by television executives who said he's never been marketable and by promoters who tried to take advantage of that, take a deal to fight Taylor for a guaranteed $5-million? Or does he hold out for a more apportioned split, a chunk of the pay-per-view monies and some promotional concessions?
While Wilkes says the fight is agreed to in principle, and Wright trainer Dan Birmingham starts mapping out his game plan, and a rental deposit is placed on the house he lives in while training in Las Vegas, Wright sounds hesitant.
He wants to fight Taylor, but not if it means losing a split decision in negotiations.
"Well, nothing's signed, and we aren't done looking over the offer that they gave us," Wright said. "But I'm not going to take it if there aren't some changes. I definitely want a part of the pay-per-view."
Wright said he's only been told of the details "in pieces." But Wilkes knows all of them, and he thinks this is a fight his man has to take.
Overcoming Wright's pride might rival a day in court for Wilkes.
"Winky is sick of all the games," Wilkes said. "I understand that."
However, he remains convinced the fight will take place.
"I can't conceive of anything that stops this fight," Wilkes said. "One thing about Winky is he's never been self-destructive. Not taking it would mean passing on millions and millions of dollars."
With just a few fights remaining in his career, it is millions that Wright won't be able to get back. Fight Taylor for $5-million, or take a meaningless fight against a lesser opponent for half that, or less.
Wright can talk all he wants about fighting in Tampa against Kassim Ouma or Javier Castillejo or Ike Quartey, but who wouldn't rather shell out the pay-per-view bucks to see him fight Taylor?
There will always be time for a fight in Tampa, maybe a nice sendoff down the road.
Wilkes wants Wright to make the millions and millions now, even if he has to sacrifice some control for now, and take care of the hometown fans later.
"We're not on the same page," Wright said, "but that's good. He's the reasonable one. But I'm the one that has got to be respected."
Wright is correct in that he deserves better for a rematch, at the very least the 55-45 split the sides agreed on the first time and not the 60-40 being proposed now. He and Taylor fought to a draw in June, though the majority of observers say Wright won the fight. And for that Taylor gets more this time around?
Wilkes looks at it this way: Wright will win the fight, and that means a 60-40 split in Wright's favor next time, which could go upward of $8-million for the third meeting in the spring.
For Wright, that's just another sign that another promoter is dictating the terms, especially since there's only a rematch if Wright wins or they draw again.
The fans crave this fight. Birmingham is itching for it. And Wilkes wants it badly, for his friend's sake.
Now, all he has to do is convince Wright.
MANAGER DIES: Dante Craig, a 2000 Olympian, is scheduled to headline One Punch Productions' next card Sept. 29 at the Tampa Westshore Doubletree Hotel, but he will do so with a heavy heart.
Sunday night, Craig's promoter, Frederick Cribbs, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Tampa.
Cribbs, easily spotted at local fight cards because of the red suits he wore, was a longtime promoter and manager in the Tampa Bay area and promoted a number of fights the past few years in Sarasota before engineering Craig's comeback.
COMEBACK KID? Tarpon Springs featherweight Pete Frissina 27-4-1, 15 knockouts will fight on the Sept. 29 card in Tampa.
For more information, call (813) 503-8109 or visit www.onepunch.net.