Roundtable: Is Winky Wright a Hall of Famer?
Is Winky Wright, who announced his retirement after Saturday's loss to Peter Quillin, a Hall of Famer?
CHRIS MANNIX: Winky was never the most entertaining fighter; OK, his awkward, defensive style was downright dull. But it’s the Hall of Fame not the Hall of Fireworks, and Winky has earned his place in Canastota. Over 22 years as a pro, Winky fought nearly everyone in his weight divisions and beat most. He won his first title against Bronco McKart and went on to beat Shane Mosley (twice), Felix Trinidad and Ike Quartey. He also got a draw against Jermain Taylor and lost a close decision to Bernard Hopkins. His career ended strangely with two straight lopsided defeats to Paul Williams and Quillin that stretched out over three years but as 154-pounders go, Winky ranks as one of the best.
RICHARD O'BRIEN: First, a caveat: The International Boxing Hall of Fame is not exactly the most exclusive body in sports (see: Tszyu, Kostya and Fenech, Jeff). Even so, I don’t see Wright as having, well, the right stuff for inclusion. He was, undeniably, a superb defensive fighter who could make almost any opponent look awkward (and for that reason suffered a long and frustrating battle for recognition and big paydays). He also had a thumping jab that was a pleasure to behold and with which he could control an entire fight. His 2005 win over Felix Trinidad was a textbook display of ring generalship and a real achievement. Winky can also point to victories over Ike Quartey and (twice) Shane Mosley (a fully deserving Hall of Famer, by the way). But losses to Bernard Hopkins, Paul Williams and Fernando Vargas, as well as a draw against Jermain Taylor, in a 51-6-1 career (with 25 KOs) all have to count against him. Certainly Wright was a standout fighter in his era -- and certainly boxing was better for having Winky around for 22 years -- but that’s not quite enough for giving him a spot in Canastota between Chalky Wright and Tony Zale.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM: You can make the argument, on paper, that Wright is one of the best ever at 154 pounds. He made a bevy of title defenses, not to mention headline-grabbing wins over Mosley (twice) and Trinidad, fought 11 world champions and unified the junior middleweight title. But there's the thought he didn't quite live up to his potential, and close decisions that didn't go his way against Vargas and Taylor (for the middleweight title) undercut his case. For the Hall of Very Good, Wright is a first-ballot pick; for Canastota, he's as borderline as it gets. That said, there have been plenty less deserving fighters inducted than Wright, so expect to see him get the call in 2017 or '18.