Winky, it's been a long time. What, 21 months? Getting back in shape had to be rough.
Almost two years. Yeah, it was tough. Really, we just had to get in there and get in the right frame of mind to dig down deep no matter how much it hurt.
What took so long to get back in there?
Trying to find someone to fight me. Trying to get a good fight. No one wants to fight.
Why not try a tuneup first? That's what most guys would do.
Oh, HBO could have said go ahead and fight an easier guy to tune up, but they ain't going to do that for me.
Still got that love-hate — or is it hate-hate — relationship with HBO?
They want to knock me off, but I'm still here. The network gave me a bunch of names they wanted me to fight. They're trying to say I'm overpricing myself, but they only throw a certain amount of money out there. I let Golden Boy (Promotions) take care of it. They couldn't get a fight either.
So if I'm an HBO executive and I walk into the sportsbook out there Saturday, I'm putting my money on Paul Williams?
Most definitely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But I ain't going away.
Did you ever think about just retiring?
How are you feeling as camp wraps up?
Man, I feel great. I'm ready to get back in there. I really can't wait to get back in there. It's going to feel different. I'll probably need a round or two to get used to it again.
Do you feel like you're in a different time? Like back to the days where you couldn't get a fight because you weren't worth the risk until Shane Mosley gave you that shot?
Definitely. I still got the feeling that I got to prove myself. It is what it is.
Paul Williams is another guy, because of his height, reach and talent, that no one wants to fight. Perfect match. He has to move up from 147 to fight you. He's built unlike any other fighter you've taken on, no? How do you combat that reach advantage?
I know the game. I'll do my thing. You don't teach an old dog new tricks, but I can do a lot of different things in there.
Did the time off recharge you?
I think it gave me some time to regroup. I feel strong.
You win Saturday, and guys like Kelly Pavlik and Arthur Abraham are going to be in your sights. Does a victory put you right back in the title mix?
I'm hoping it will make things easier. The problem is there aren't the marquee fighters out there that are willing to fight. If everyone would be willing to fight each other, boxing would be better off. Winky Wright is ready to fight anyone.
John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail
You might recognize the haircut, cut straight across the forehead. Or the goatee, wrapped around the ever-present smile. The style, where have we seen that before — hands up, right jab firing out, coming forward? Hey, is that … is that Winky Wright? It sure is. We caught up with Wright, 37, via cell phone Wednesday after the St. Petersburg resident's arrival at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay for Saturday's middleweight bout against Paul Williams.