Robert Morales: Hopkins to battle Wright

first_imgHopkins, 42, held at least one piece of the middleweight championship for 10 years before he lost all four belts via split decision to Jermain Taylor in July 2005. It was somewhat controversial in that most ringside observers had Hopkins winning. Taylor again emerged victorious via narrow unanimous decision in a rematch five months later. But six months after that, last June, Hopkins moved up to light heavyweight and beat people’s champion Antonio Tarver with a lopsided decision. Hopkins announced his retirement. But it didn’t last long. “It’s going to be an interesting showdown,” Schaefer said. “It’s Bernard fighting another big fight. For him, it’s fighting one of the best fighters again, one who hasn’t lost in a long time. For Winky, a win over Hopkins, think what what would do. Then he would actually be the only fighter who fought and won against the three guys Oscar lost to. So, it is a very interesting fight. A very big fight.” Wright has two wins over Mosley and a win over Felix Trinidad Jr. Bernard Hopkins, one of the great middleweights of all-time, recently announced that he wanted to come out of a short retirement. Speculation immediately began as to whom he would fight. The speculation is over. Richard Schaefer, CEO of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, told this newspaper Wednesday that Hopkins and Winky Wright have signed contracts to fight each other July 21 at a site to be determined. “It’s signed, sealed and delivered,” Schaefer said. “We signed it last weekend (Saturday) in Las Vegas. Different sites are interested. Las Vegas is interested.” Wright, of St. Petersburg, Fla., trains in Las Vegas. Hopkins, a partner in Golden Boy Promotions, was there playing host to the Golden Boy-promoted welterweight title fight between “Sugar” Shane Mosley and Luis Collazo, won by Mosley. center_img De La Hoya has losses to Mosley, Trinidad and Hopkins. Wright, 35, is the former junior middleweight champion and currently a top-ranked middleweight. He has not lost since 1999. Wright and Hopkins will meet at a catch-weight of 170 pounds, two pounds over the super middleweight limit. Hopkins, of Philadelphia, is 47-4-1 with 32 knockouts. Wright is 51-3-1 with 25 knockouts. Vazquez-Marquez Israel Vazquez of Mexico City on March 3 will defend his World Boxing Council super bantamweight belt against countryman Rafael Marquez at Home Depot Center in Carson. Marquez, a bantamweight world champion the past several years, will be moving up in weight. But he is a consensus top 10 pound-for-pound fighter and one of the meanest hombres in the sport. He also has one of the game’s best trainers in Nacho Beristain. Even though Vazquez is the champion at this weight and a borderline top 10 pound-for-pound fighter, he will undoubtedly be in the toughest fight of his esteemed career. And he might be in it without his trainer, Freddie Roach. Roach is scheduled to leave on March 1 with the rest of Team De La Hoya to Puerto Rico, where Roach will train De La Hoya for his May 5 mega fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas. Prior to a news conference Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles promoting his fight, Vazquez was asked about the scenario. “He (Roach) formally told us that he is going to be there, that he is going to be in my corner,” said Vazquez, who is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Sycuan Ringside Promotions. Schaefer was also on hand at the news conference. He sang a different tune. He said the plan right now is for all of Team De La Hoya to leave for camp in Puerto Rico the day after a Feb. 28 Los Angeles news conference that will complete a long press tour. “I have to talk to Oscar and see what his plans are,” Schaefer said. “Maybe he (Roach) stays for the fight. I can’t really answer you one way or another. It’s an Oscar issue. If Oscar wants to start camp on the first (of March), with the whole team flying back together, then, you know…” Yes, we know. That means Roach won’t be in Vazquez’s corner unless De La Hoya says he can. Told about this, Vazquez expressed cautious optimism. “I hope Oscar understands that this is a big fight for us,” Vazquez said. “I belong to his company. I also have to prepare. I think this fight is a big fight for the company, for everybody. I hope he will understand and let Freddie stay with me that night.” Frank Espinoza of West Covina is Vazquez’s longtime manager. He expressed concern late Tuesday night that Vazquez might be without Roach for the most important fight of his career. A win over Marquez would no doubt vault Vazquez into the top 10 of most respected pound-for-pound polls. “Here you have a Golden Boy fighter in Israel Vazquez,” Espinoza said. “Why wouldn’t they let him (Roach) stay?” Should Roach not make the fight, he will most likely be replaced by Justin Fortune, Roach’s assistant at Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. “I guess Israel feels OK with him,” Espinoza said. Vazquez, 29, is 41-3 with 30 knockouts. Marquez, 31, is 36-3 with 32 knockouts. The main undercard fight to Vazquez-Marquez will feature Vic Darchinyan in a defense of his International Boxing Federation flyweight belt against Victor Burgos. Tickets at Home Depot Center will begin at $25. Both fights will be televised by Showtime. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini This newspaper recently had a short conversation with Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. He was reminded about the upcoming 25th anniversary of his tragic fight with Duk Koo Kim on Nov. 13, 1982. Kim was stopped in the 14th round of a brutal fight and died four days later. In the ensuing months, both Kim’s mother and the fight’s referee, Richard Greene, committed suicide. So when Mancini was asked if he would be willing to talk to us for an anniversary story, he politely refused with an understandable comment. “Anniversaries are supposed to be for celebration,” Mancini said. “What’s to celebrate?” Mancini is from Youngstown, Ohio, but he has lived in Santa Monica the past 21 years. Now 45, he retired in 1992. Robert Morales can be reached at [email protected] or at (562) 499-2552. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more