After co-promoting the May 5 fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. that set an all-time record for pay-per-view buys, Philadelphia's Bernard Hopkins will fight Winky Wright in a July 21 bout that will not attract nearly as many viewers.
"That's a hard sell, man," said Nigel Collins, the editor in chief of Ring Magazine. "It's two technicians. Neither of them has put on particularly exciting fights. I think it's more or less a consolation prize for Bernard. He couldn't get [super middleweight] Joe Calzaghe, or [heavyweight] Oleg Maskaev, and he had an HBO date open. Winky was the best they could do, but it's going to be a really hard sell."
De La Hoya's star power was the main reason that 2.15 million pay-per-view fans watched him drop a split decision to Mayweather in a rather lackluster fight.
Hopkins-Wright, however, is likely to produce more fireworks.
The veteran boxers were at the Blue Horizon yesterday to drum up some interest in their 170-pound bout in Las Vegas. It will be on HBO pay-per-view.
"This fight has a chance to be the best fight of the year to date," said Hopkins, who promised "physical, in-your-face fighting. What you will have is action and a lot of inside fighting. This fight is going to come down to who can take the most punishment, pain and punches."
HBO will air a documentary that will chronicle Hopkins and Wright as they prepare for the big night, just as the network did in the weeks leading up to De La Hoya-Mayweather.
Hopkins will put his Ring Magazine belt on the line against the favored Wright.
The former middleweight champion will fight for the first time since relieving Antonio Tarver of his IBO light-heavyweight crown last June in a unanimous decision in Atlantic City. Hopkins, 42, is 47-4-1 with 32 knockouts.
Wright, a 35-year-old southpaw, has a record of 51-3-1 with 25 KOs. Like Hopkins, Wright has never been knocked out, and the Washington native is carrying an unbeaten string that goes back to 1999.
The only blemish on his record came when Wright fought middleweight champ Jermaine Taylor to a draw last June. Many observers thought Wright had won that outing, just as there were doubters when Taylor took Hopkins' titles with a split decision the previous year.
Wright was a two-time champion at 154 pounds before moving up and scoring a decision against the talented Felix Trinidad in a middleweight elimination fight in May 2005. Hopkins, who stopped Trinidad with a dramatic 12th-round TKO in September 2001 that unified the title, likes to boast that Wright fought "what was left of Trinidad."
While he moved around the ring a lot earlier in his career, the Wright who fought Taylor was content to stand in the middle of the ring and throw power punches. Wright likes to work off his right jab and left hook.
The cagey Hopkins has more dimensions than Wright and has the ability to adjust his tactics during a fight. A counterpuncher par excellence, Hopkins can score with the straight right and the hook to the body.
Hopkins will try to make Wright move, but there are bound to be exchanges. Neither fighter will shy away from mixing it up.
"This fight will be a throwback to the old days," Wright said. "July 21, there will be a heck of a fight. People who know Winky Wright know I come to fight. I can't wait."