Friday, April 10, 2009 | midnight
- Principals: Winky Wright (51-4-1, 25 KOs) vs. Paul Williams (36-1, 27 KOs)
- Stakes: 12-round nontitle middleweight fight
- Time/site: Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center; first bout 2:30 p.m., main event approximately 8 p.m.
- Tickets: $50 to $300, mandalaybay.com
- TV: HBO (Cox cable channel 200)
- Weigh-in: 2:30 p.m. today, J-POP Lounge, Mandalay Bay
- Co-main event: Chris Arreola (26-0, 23 KOs) vs. Jameel McCline (39-3-3, 23 KOs), 12 rounds, heavyweights
- Undercard: Danny Garcia (11-0, 7 KOs) vs. Humberto Tapia (14-9-1, 7 KOs), 8 rounds, junior welterweights; Shawn Estrada (3-0, 3 KOs) vs. Omar Coffi (1-1-2), 4 rounds, super middleweights; Jose Rodriguez (12-1-1, 2 KOs) vs. Pablo Montes De Oca (9-15-2, 6 KOs), 10 rounds, junior middleweights; Craig McEwan (13-0, 8 KOs) vs. Alexis Division (16-8, 13 KOs), 8 rounds, middleweights; Michael Dallas (6-0-1, 1 KO) vs. Terrance Jett (4-12-2, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior welterweights; Juan Dominguez (3-0, 1 KO) vs. Ramon Flores (3-4-1, 3 KOs), 4 rounds, featherweights; Rico Ramos (8-0, 5 KOs) vs. Gino Escamilla (5-4-1, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior featherweights
Winky Wright has thought of nothing but returning to the ring since October, dedicating himself to training more than at any other point in his career.
But when he finally does enter the Mandalay Bay Events Center Saturday night after nearly two years away from boxing, Wright will allow his mind to wander for 10 long seconds from the challenge lying ahead in Paul Williams.
In doing so, he'll be paying tribute to one of his closest friends, Arthur Curry.
The memorial 10-count will honor the late Curry, HBO's director of boxing talent relations. Known affectionately within boxing circles as “Artie,” Curry, 49, was found dead in his New York City apartment Wednesday.
“Artie brought a lot of honesty to the HBO network through his relationships with the fighters," said Wright, who went on to say that in a sport known at times for its backstabbing that Curry was highly regarded by anyone he came into contact with, specifically the fighters whose interests he constantly lobbied for at HBO.
Fighters like Wright.
"A lot of those network guys have to deal with staying popular with the network, but Artie always kept it real with the fighters,” Wright continued. “He was always there for us. A lot of people in this sport are fake, they'll say one thing and do another thing. Artie has always been real. To lose him is like losing part of my family."
The news came as a shock to Wright's entire training camp, considering Curry had just made a trip to Las Vegas two weeks ago to spend time with him. Wright had been looking forward to having Curry in attendance for his first bout since losing to Bernard Hopkins in July 2007.
"We just saw him when he came to camp, he looked fine," said Wright's trainer, Dan Birmingham. "They were tight, he came just to spend time with us. They've been out bowling together and doing stuff like that, they were great friends. It's a shame."
Curry's career with HBO began in 1989 when he joined HBO Sports as a production assistant after working in the mailroom at Time-Life. In 1996, Curry moved into his role as a boxing relations liaison.
Enduring a tough childhood — one in which his mother was murdered and his father drank himself to death when he was 4 years old — had no effect on Curry's openness and ability to bring cheer to everyone he met along the way, Wright said.
News of his unexpected death rocked the boxing world Wednesday night and Thursday. As Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer announced the news to the press at Thursday’s pre-fight news conference, Wright sat silently next to him nodding his head.
"If ever there was a person who was a perfect fit for his job, it was Artie," HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg said in a statement. "He loved boxers and they loved him back. Artie was our personal ambassador to the boxing community, and he will be sorely missed by all of the people that he touched. I am grateful that for two decades, he represented HBO Sports and distinguished himself every day."
The main storyline Saturday night will still be Wright vs. Williams, and how no other fighters wanted to face either of them, so they fought each other.
Wright said he is eagerly looking forward to his return to the ring and a chance to prove that, at 37, he's still a force to be reckoned with and not just a legend. But for that 10-second break before the action starts, Wright will bow his head and remember another legend that made such a difference in his life.
"I definitely dedicate this fight to him," Wright said. "This man was always behind me and it's going to be a sad moment when they count that off. I love him like a brother. He always treated me respect and I did the same towards him."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].